NEW YORK — May Co. and Marshall Field’s are resisting calls from consumers that they remove fcuk-branded fragrance and apparel from their stores.
Despite complaints, both retailers are still stocking fcuk, which is a sub-brand of French Connection. May Co., however, has agreed to stop advertising and in-store marketing for the fragrance.
The campaign against fcuk is being orchestrated by the Mississippi-based American Family Association. Via e-mail and through its Web sites, the group is urging consumers to protest against fcuk fragrance because it finds the brand’s marketing offensive.
“The acronym and the advertising are not appropriate,” said Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the American Family Association. “There’s no question the advertising encourages the young person into believing that casual sex is an appropriate behavior, when in fact it is a very dangerous and unhealthy activity.”
In a statement last week, French Connection said, “We do not feel our brand promotes any of the actions and/or impressions that those concerned have suggested. French Connection has always taken pride in our innovative and free-spirit approach to our advertising campaigns, and our intentions as a company have neither been to offend nor generate negative opinion.”
As reported, Federated, another target of the AFA-led campaign, pulled all fcuk products from its department stores, though it continues to stock French Connection–branded apparel.
“We plan to continue selling [the fragrance],” said Sharon Bateman, a spokeswoman at May Co., who confirmed the retailer has received a number of e-mails from a “special-interest group.” However, May Co. is not promoting fcuk in circulars or direct-mail advertising and has pulled all fcuk signs from the store.
Moreover, May Co. won’t have any employees out on the sales floor enticing customers with free bursts of the scent, as is the usual practice when a new fragrance launches. Fcuk fragrance is being carried at May Co. nameplates Hecht’s, Filene’s and Robinsons-May, Bateman said. May Co. does not carry fcuk apparel, which is mainly logo T-shirts.
Target Corp., the parent of Marshall Field’s, did not respond to requests for information. However, staffers at Field’s guest relations line were briefed on the issue.“Marshall Field’s is reevaluating how we market and advertise the brand,” said a staffer, who confirmed midweek that the product was still carried by the retailer.
AFA is keeping up the pressure on Target. A page on the AFA-affiliated OneMillionMoms.com site reads, “As expected, the Target Corp. is blocking your e-mails to them....Call Target’s toll-free number and let them know how disgusted you are with their decision to sell fcuk products through their Marshall Field’s stores.”
A spokesman for the Christian Coalition was incorrect when he last week named Nordstrom as a retailer carrying fcuk. Nordstrom spokeswoman Shasha Richardson said the company bought fewer than 16 units of the fcuk-logo apparel and, without outside pressure, decided to pull it early in the season. It doesn’t carry the fragrance.
French Connection has used the fcuk logo, which stands for French Connection U.K., in the U.S. since 1997, but the recent controversy seems to have been triggered by the fragrance launch this fall. French Connection created print ads using the tag line “Scent to Bed” and planned in-store and on-campus sampling programs and special events.
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