Firing Back

Dec 01, 1998 10:30 PM  By

More support-and acrimony Thank you for having the courage to include your “Editor’s page” on catalog censorship in the September issue. It turned my stomach when I read about the problems that Abercrombie & Fitch ran into with its Drinking 101 ad.

These days special interest groups seize on anything that is politically incorrect in the slightest way. Targeting your customer is a difficult process anyway, but having to inspect your copy and limit creativity on the chance it will offend someone has reached ridiculous proportions.

It’s amazing what people today define as “their business.” They feel required to impose their standards on the rest of us, with minds so closed that there is no opportunity for rebuttal. The biggest offenders seem to be my fellow baby boomers, who lived so wild in their youth and are now scared to death that their own children might aspire to do the same.

I figure that you are going to get a lot of letters that miss the point and feel you are advocating excess drinking and sex among our young people (how did you miss drugs?), so I thought I’d e-mail my words of support. Please don’t let the resulting backlash have you mailing us apologies.

Charlie Leccese, catalog manager, QSoft Buyer’s Guide

You were right-you’re going to get a lot of letters on this one! This is my first letter to your publication, and I’m writing it because I can’t agree with you more! You are not the only person in the world who thinks that Abercrombie & Fitch should not have pulled its magalog. Hats off to you for being honest and forthright!

Corinne Rebillard, Marketing manager, Executive Greetings

I read with much fascination your editorial in the September issue of Catalog Age. Hooray! Finally a voice of reason in this overly pious, uptight society. The very people who are making the rules to govern everyone else’s behavior now are the same people who enjoyed the freedom to explore, grow, and mature on their own terms when they were young.

Cheryl Habing, catalog production manager, Mid America Designs

You’re absolutely right. You will get letters on this one. Where to start? Let’s begin with the title of your editorial, “On catalog censorship.” The word “censorship” implies keeping something from the masses. That didn’t happen. Abercrombie & Fitch was simply stupid to push a button it knew would create a massive public backlash. I’m sure the decision to run a spread such as this was not made by one or two people, but that both corporate and marketing were involved, concluding that parent outrage would amount to little, and that sales would far outweigh bad publicity. Boy, are they out of it.

And, while I’m on the bandwagon, so are you. You couldn’t be a parent (and if you are, I fear for your children). If you had done your homework, you would realize that a mammoth portion of A&F’s sales are to teens trying to emulate college-age kids, and that A&F is aware of this and should take responsibility for what it is passing off as acceptable behavior. Apparently, A&F feels the same way now, having spent thousands to try to make it all go away.

The argument that “well, everyone else is doing it, so what’s wrong with it?” just doesn’t cut it. Call me a do-gooder if you like. I think of myself as liberal in most areas, but promoting drinking to young people is where I have to draw the line. Where is your line, or has your pen just run out of ink?

Bill Buck, Buck & Buck