Editorial: A&F Is at It Again

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Abercrombie & Fitch must enjoy getting its yearly dose of controversy. The latest: The cataloger/retailer pulled an entire line of T-shirts with negative stereotypes against Asians. Though I defended the company a year ago when Illinois' lieutenant governor complained about partial nudity in its magalog (which is sold only to people older than 18), this crosses the line. A&F's stock answer doesn't hold much water, either. "We thought they were cheeky, irreverent and funny and everyone would love them," a spokesman told Reuters. Wrong.

At least one employee is toeing the line, as evidenced by a recent visit to the only A&F store in Manhattan. First, the cashier asked for my ID when I wanted to buy the latest magalog. "It's policy," she said. I chuckled, trying to recall the last time I was carded, and asked whether it had anything controversial this time. "No comment." ... I inquired next about the T-shirts. Did they have them for sale earlier in the week? "No comment." ... I pried some more. "You can't even tell me that you had them in stock?" A smirk and one final "No comment." By the way, Illinois isn't done with A&F yet. State lawmakers passed a resolution this month condemning the company's "XXX" advertising campaign and calling on "the public, and parents especially, to boycott" its stores.

A New Ride Begins

Just over three years ago, I asked readers to climb aboard and enjoy the ride of iMarketing News. Sadly, the ride ended last week, though a new one is beginning -- one that will strengthen this publication as we move iMarketing News into its new home: a revamped Web Marketing section of DM News. The decision to fold the publication was overdue. So many Net companies had gone out of business. For that matter, so many magazines covering the industry had gone out of business. It also was difficult to report the news on a monthly basis.

In iMarketing News' new home, faithful followers will still find stories about e-mail marketing and e-mail lists, online retailing, ad targeting and more. We'll also have a twice-monthly column from Ken Magill so he can continue his rants on the industry. Meanwhile, DM News will boost its circulation to 50,000, taking 10,000 names from iMarketing News' subscriber base. The ride may have been cut short, but what a ride it was.


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