A disturbing fact may explain why stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch and American Apparel are eschewing their titillating ads featuring scantily clad models in provocative poses: teenagers have become inured to such pictures because they have access to virtually any sexual image.
Gone are the shirtless men and shopping bags depicting lascivious couples foisted on the public by Abercrombie. Gone are the provocative poses of the models for American Apparel.
Instead, Abercrombie’s latest campaign features no shirtless models and less sexuality. Craig Brommers, senior vice president of marketing at Abercrombie, recently told Women’s Wear Daily, “We announced a number of changes a few months ago, which were based on our customer’s [sic] feedback. One of those changes was the elimination of sexualized imagery.”
Before American Apparel filed for bankruptcy in October, it had already ditched its racy ad campaigns in the summer.
Ruth Bernstein, founder and chief strategic officer of image-making agency YARD, told Business Insider:
Whether or not these campaigns can save the brands we’ll see, but they are doing some heavy lifting in terms of repositioning themselves to the consumer, and that’s definitely a step in the right direction for them.
The older campaigns of Abercrombie & Fitch and American Apparel were “overtly sexual without any substance behind them.”
Then Bernstein acknowledged the crucial issue when discussing teen sales: “Today, the world is so saturated with nudity and sex, people are looking for more than just shock and nudity because you can see those anywhere. The consumer is looking for sex plus.”
Even Playboy CEO Scott Flanders admitted to The New York Times, “That battle has been fought and won. … You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free.”
But how long will it be until companies decide they simply did not stretch the envelope far enough?