My friend Julie Hein shared an article with me yesterday afternoon. Her email subject line?
In seminars and workshops, I put Dove on a pedestal for their Campaign For Real Beauty as a prime example of values guiding a company’s marketing plan.
For example, I often share the video “Evolution” in my seminars.
It appears you can say the same is true for another company. In “Abercrombie & Fitch Refuses To Make Clothes For Large Women,” the Business Insider article Julie sent me, Ashley Lutz writes:
Teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t stock XL or XXL sizes in women’s clothing because they don’t want overweight women wearing their brand.
They want the “cool kids,” and they don’t consider plus-sized women as being a part of that group.
You may not like it. You may think Abercrombie and its customers are shallow, vapid, empty, faux-tanned shells of human beings who just pronounced the “x” in faux.
Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries doesn’t care. Lutz quotes Jeffries from a 2006 interview with Salon:
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
The thing is… while you might not like it, it doesn’t mean this fraction-of-a-man’s strategy is bad. In fact, it’s very smart.
As my mentor and business partner Roy Williams wrote a couple years ago, we define ourselves more by what we exclude.
Hobby Lobby would sell more craft supplies if they were open on Sundays, but they exclude a full 1/7 of possible working days for God. Chick-fil-A would sell more food. It’s the same thing. Sort of.
And I don’t think we should write letters to the President demanding Abercrombie change their policy. Frankly, I think public protests outside their stores would make CEO Jeffries squeal with glee. He welcomes this publicity as a siren song to his shallow end of the pool.
You’re welcome, Creepy Creeperson.
Williams has also said that “we buy what we buy because our choices remind us – and tell the world around us – who we are.”
Abercrombie has a right to sell clothes to whomever they wish, and I have a right to think they suck.
See? The system works.
What, who, where, or when does your company exclude? Why? Tell us those things, and we can help you with your strategic plan. Unless we don’t share your values, then we’d both be happier if you worked with someone else.
See? Again, the system works.