Op-Ed: Maybe Abercrombie Should Call Its Agency?

By Kiran Aditham 

HUGE marketing strategist lead Josh Seifert is back for his monthly contribution to this here site. In his latest entry, Seifert discusses why the viral “Call Me Maybe” redo from fave “bro” brand Abercrombie & Fitch was a “missed opportunity.” The floor’s yours, sir.

In the past four months, since Justin Bieber et al. made this video, dancing to the pop hit “Call Me Maybe,” there’s been no shortage of parody videos, and compilations of everyone else’s parody video. Love or hate the song, it’s wildly popular as are the spoofs on YouTube with millions of views. Every week there seems to be a new parody launching, from the Harvard baseball team—and subsequently every other sports team that travels by van—to Sesame Street. There’s no shortage of people and groups using the popularity of the song to have some fun and get their own few minutes of fame.

A few weeks ago, Abercrombie & Fitch, posted their own “Call Me Maybe” rendition featuring the Hottest Abercrombie & Fitch guys from around the world—it has an impressive 8.1 million views and counting. As A&F knows well, shirtless male models sell jeans. But as successful as the video is in terms of views, it’s a disappointing reminder that too little thought is being paid to how digital and social media actually work for users. This is a classic example of the failure to think about social media in a way that’s more sophisticated than putting an ad on YouTube and hoping for the best. While the video itself is great content for A&F, it’s still a digital dead-end.

Obviously this kind of marketing is not intended to drive people directly to e-commerce or incentivize them to go into a store. Yet, it’s a missed opportunity to take advantage of the three minutes users just spent watching shirtless A&F models dance in iconic locations around the world. There could be related videos on A&F’s YouTube channel—or even unrelated video—instead there’s literally nothing else on Abercrombie’s YouTube channel. There isn’t even a link or an address to any other Abercrombie digital property (i.e., Twitter, Facebook or their global website). Most surprising, the video doesn’t even appear on A&F’s Facebook page—it’s almost as if no one managing social media even knew that this video had been created.

This kind of branded content that’s timely, relatable and sharable will only become more important as a way to reach and connect with consumers as audiences continue to fragment. The point here is not to criticize Abercrombie, who have made a great video, but to highlight the need for brands to stop thinking about this kind of content in a vacuum as “viral video” and start thinking about how it works as part of a thoughtful social media strategy tied to larger communication goals.