“I was not human to any of those people. I was a body. … What happened to me changed my life, and not for the better.”
Pall and other men spoke out about how ex-A&F CEO Mike Jeffries and his partner, Matthew Smith, allegedly recruited them for demeaning and exploitive acts for sex shows worldwide between 2009 and 2015, per the BBC. The show stems from a two-year BBC investigation.
Jeffries stepped down as CEO in 2014 due to declining sales.
A&F, which operates 850 stores around the world, told the BBC that the company’s present executive leadership team and board of directors were unaware of the sexual misconduct allegations.
They also are in touch with an outside law firm to “conduct an independent investigation,” the BBC reported.
James Jacobson, an alleged sex event recruiter for Jeffries and Smith, told the BBC that nothing wrong happened at the events and the men attended “with their eyes wide open.”
Why it matters:
While Abercrombie & Fitch and Jeffries parted ways years earlier, the brand’s reputation could still be heavily impacted negatively by public opinion over these scandalous and damaging allegations.
A&F is carefully distancing themselves as much as possible from Jeffries to portray the company in a new light with new leadership.
A&F was transparent in the BBC investigative article and said that its modern-day founder’s alleged behavior is not what the company condones or tolerates.
They were clear to state how they were “appalled and disgusted” by Jeffries’ alleged actions. And they were clear to underscore the fact that their new leadership is against any form of sexual abuse or similar misconduct.
“(We) have zero tolerance for abuse, harassment or discrimination of any kind,” they told BBC.
These present-day reminders are important for the brand to let their stakeholders know that they are removed from Jeffries’ reported negative influence. That’s important.
A tarnished brand is not always easy to bounce back from.
Continue to send key messages to stakeholders about where your brand stands during swirling allegations that even indirectly impact you. Telling people what your values are during times of crisis and distancing your brand from key figures embroiled in controversy helps a brand stay above board.
Editor’s Top Picks:
- Amazon sent out numerous emails to customers recently thanking them for gift cards they never purchased from the website. The company promptly reacted to the error and sent a follow-up email warning customers of scams. “An error in our email system resulted in an order confirmation email being sent to customers who did not purchase a gift card,” an Amazon rep informed Insider. “We have fixed this error so it won’t happen again, and are emailing these customers to inform them of the error and apologize for the inconvenience.” Amazon was quick to respond and offer solutions. Be responsive in your comms and create boilerplate statements and press releases for emergencies that require a fast statement.
- “The Golden Bachelor” is TV gold. On the popular ABC show, Gerry Turner, a 72-year-old widow, is looking for love from 22 contestants who are between the ages of 60 and 75 years old. There are 71 million Baby Boomers in America and 30 million women, who are 65 and older, with over half of them widowed, divorced or never married. “This is not an age group that’s necessarily highlighted or celebrated in mainstream media,” Claire Freeland, show executive producer, told the Washington Post. ABC answered fans’ requests. They’re catering to a demographic that wants to feel seen. Help your audience feel seen through your brand in new and relatable ways.
- Taco Bell celebrated National Taco Day yesterday by bringing on limited-time toasted breakfast tacos. The fast-food chain was unsuccessful with previous attempts at breakfast menus because customers opted for McDonald’s or Burger King. Taco Bell even cheekily apologized for their previous breakfast menu fails using Pete Davidson. Now, with breakfast tacos on tap, they are again enlisting Davidson to sell them. With inflation, lunch and dinner fast food sales have declined and Taco Bell is capitalizing on more customers eating breakfast out. If a product or idea flops, dissect why it didn’t work. Then revisit. Let trends and new data lead the way when updating or refreshing comms.
Sherri Kolade is a writer at PR Daily. When she is not with her family, she enjoys watching old films, reading and building an authentically curated life. This includes, more than occasionally, finding something deliciously fried. Follow her on LinkedIn. Have a great PR story idea? Email her at email@example.com.