Abercrombie & Fitch’s CSR Attempt

22 Apr

Corporate social responsibility is a great way for businesses to recognize the interests of society while acknowledging their impact on their audiences and environment. Abercrombie & Fitch has come up with a “brilliant” CSR tactic donating $10 million to the construction of a trauma center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The most shocking part of it all: The NCH could be renaming the building to the Abercrombie & Fitch Emergency Department and Trauma Center. 

It makes sense for their CSR attempt tot arget children in hopes to further encourage support for its children’s store, abercrombie kids. However, Abercrombie & Fitch needs to change their advertising campaign. The use of sexual advertisements to represent a company that targets children and teens doesn’t seem to go hand-in-hand with a children’s hospital and many are speaking out against this relationship. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has sent a letter signed by approximately 70 pediatricians and academics stating their position on the situation.

Both the New York Times and Fox News have covered the protest against renaming the hospital. Fox News features an article written by the Associated Press that ends with the following quote: “Abercrombie & Fitch is well known for pushing the envelope in terms of teen sexuality, and to have an emergency room named after them is ludicrous,” said Dr. Victor Strasburger, a professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico, who signed the letter faxed to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

How would you handle the bad press from this CSR move? I think it’s time for some crisis communication.  

6 Responses to “Abercrombie & Fitch’s CSR Attempt”

  1. patrickfoulon April 22, 2008 at 7:57 pm #

    Well when I read this news I immediately saw the image in my head of emergency and recovery rooms decorated with the giant wall murals of gorgeous people with no shoes or shirts seemingly having the greatest time playing ‘tag’…I agree that either some advertisement changes need to be implemented, or perhaps find someone in the A&F company that is responsible for the donation and name it after them? Regardless, I cannot see the name flying.

  2. tiffanyderville April 22, 2008 at 10:28 pm #


    This is what Dr. Jim Grunig refers to as the misguided little league strategy. Make some ethically questionable decisions and then support the little league team in attempt to make your organization’s problems disappear. Thanks for drawing attention to this excellent topic.


  3. Liz Harney April 23, 2008 at 3:55 pm #

    This may be a stretch, and I’m not taking Abercrombie’s side, but what if this is their attempt to reach a new audience – new customers? From their point of view it is probably smart marketing. Then again, if people are getting upset, maybe it’s not.

  4. bry0000000 April 24, 2008 at 9:19 pm #

    Maybe crisis communication would help, but if I were A&F, I would walk away from trying to brand an emergency room. In this case, I think it’s too obvious that A&F’s donation is not altruistic, which is important because we as a society tend to believe that donations need to be altruistic, especially in the case of public services. Wanting to rename an emergency center is a good way to say “Hey, I have an underlying motivation for donating to you.”

  5. Rebecca February 1, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    Well, as soon as I saw the picture and read the article, it sounded to me like someone just did not like abercrombie & fitch. I shop there a lot and i have never seen a picture that obscene once in that store. The most they ever have are the guys shirts off, or the girl in a bathing suit in the summer, but you could also walk outside your house in the summer if you lived at the beach and see the same thing. Yes, it may be a new marketing idea for them to get more people into there stores. I do not see any reason why they are protesting the renaming of the hospital just because they think that there is “sexual advertisement” when there is no such thing at abercrombie & fitch.

  6. Sybil March 3, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    I am not sure if A&F ever really wanted to rename the hospital at all and whether it is all a case of “any publicity is good publicity”. We are now all aware of the huge donation they have made to the hospital and are talking about it. I wouldn’t have heard about it otherwise. Mission accomplished A&F marketing team. It can often be difficult to determine what is “good” marketing and what is intentional. Either way they have got a lot of publicity from this.

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