Situation Brewing Between Abercrombie & Fitch and 'Jersey Shore' Star

Abercrombie & Fitch offers pay reality star "The Situation" to ditch its duds.

August 17, 2011, 1:35 PM

Aug. 17, 2011 — -- Abercrombie & Fitch does not want Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino to wear their clothing. Yes, the same company that markets thong underwear to pre-teen girls and padded bikini tops to 7-year-olds would prefer if the rapscallion Romeo of MTV's "Jersey Shore" stopped rocking their logo.

And if asking nicely isn't enough, they'll pay him to stop donning their duds.

The retailer put out a statement Tuesday titled "A Win-Win Situation," saying it has a "deep concern" over the connection between Sorrentino and the brand. A&F offered a "substantial payment" to the 29-year-old reality TV star "to wear an alternate brand."

Recent "Jersey Shore" episodes have featured Sorrentino strutting down the streets of Florence in neon green A&F sweatpants and lifting up his shirt to reveal the label of his A&F underwear, along with his six-pack abs. (Don't they like that kind of thing?)

"We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans," the company said. A&F also offered to pay off Sorrentino's "Jersey Shore" castmates.

A representative for Sorrentino declined's request for comment, and the star, a frequent Twitter user, has yet to post anything about it online.

It's an unusual move for A&F, which all but asked for controversy when it debuted a line of thong underwear for girls in 2002 (panties were printed with the phrases "eye candy" and "wink wink") and continues to employ the "less is more" strategy when it comes to dressing its models for ad campaigns. The company has also settled several lawsuits in the last decade, some of which involved allegations of discrimination against Asian, African-American and female employees.

After all that, wouldn't A&F want some free star-fueled publicity?

"Most people would give their right arm to get celebrities to wear their product on air and on the street," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for the market research firm The NPD Group. "It's rare for a brand to go the other way. Most don't have the nerve to be able to ask that question. It will only fuel the fire, it will only entice the celebrity."

Case in point: When the producers of Cristal Champagne bemoaned its association with the "bling" lifestyle in an interview with the Economist, rap mogul Jay-Z released a statement saying he would never again drink Cristal, promote it in his songs or serve it in his nightclubs. Other hip-hop artists followed suit.

"I felt like this was the bulls**t I'd been dealing with forever, this kind of offhanded, patronizing disrespect for the culture of hip-hop," Jay-Z wrote in his 2010 book, "Decoded." "Why not just say thank you and keep it moving?"

In the past, A&F seemed appreciative of Sorrentino's patronage. In an interview last year with New York Magazine, he declared that he was the inspiration for the company's "Fitchuation" t-shirt. According to the Wall Street Journal, A&F confirmed yesterday that it sold that shirt as part of its "humor graphic tee assortment."

Now, perhaps, the joke's on them. A&F's stock took a hit in the wake of their offer to Sorrentino, plummeting 9 percent today.

"The exposure that they're continually getting from him is worth a significant amount of ad dollars," Cohen said. "You can't run an ad campaign that will equal that money."

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