Bye-bye beefcake, hello inclusivity.
Abercrombie & Fitch today will unveil a new global campaign for Fierce, its men’s fragrance, that is a reflection of the company’s ongoing transformation to better align itself with a changed Millennial customer.
Called “Face Your Fierce,” the campaign features stories told through still and video content of an eclectic group of young men and women who share stories about how they face their fears and find inner strength in the face of adversity. The faces include athletes, LGBTQ+ activists, mental health advocates and volunteer firefighters from Malibu, Calif., who fought the wildfires in that city.
Face Your Fierce will launch in stores globally and online this weekend.
“We’ve spent the past couple of years on a journey to stabilize the Abercrombie brand,” said Fran Horowitz, chief executive officer of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. “We’ve done a lot of listening to our customers.”
What they heard is that customers are quite fond of the fragrance, which is actually the top-selling item for the brand, Horowitz said, and which has ranked within the top four men’s fragrances in the U.S. for the past seven years.
Although the juice of the fragrance remains the same, A&F is relaunching Fierce with a new bottle that features the un-retouched torso of judo fighter Julian Schneider. Three limited-edition bottles will then launch in May, September and November with the portraits of athletes Romelu Lukaku, striker with Manchester United; Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, and Ryan Garcia, an American boxer in the super featherweight division.
Using women in the campaign was also a thought-out decision. Horowitz said that while Fierce is “technically a men’s fragrance, a lot of women purchase it.” And the diversity of the models is “indicative of the brand and where it’s headed.”
Carey Krug, senior vice president of marketing for A&F, said the change speaks to what’s important and relevant to customers today. “We’re leaning into the consumer mind-set and showing a much more diverse group with stories that can resonate with a lot of people.” She said the goal is to present a “softer and more vulnerable face.”
The campaign will continue to evolve throughout the year with customers being encouraged to share their “Face Their Fierce” stories on the brand’s social media channels. The campaign will also be featured in stores with giant bottles installed in 13 global flagships where customers can take selfies of themselves with the bottles. A wild posting, or guerrilla marketing, campaign will be run in New York, London, Boston and Los Angeles to align with the bottle launches.
Horowitz said the multimillion-dollar effort is the first 360-degree campaign for the A&F brand and follows a successful program for the company’s Hollister brand. “We’ve taken a page from their playbook,” she said. In the past, A&F “didn’t have big marketing muscle,” but used its stores as the primary marketing vehicle.
Although the company has not yet released its full fourth-quarter earnings, in mid-January it said the brand “took a step back” in the period with “very specific product misses” in dresses and tops that it is now addressing and that led to “a projected negative brand comp for the quarter.”
In the third quarter ended Nov. 3, the company reported comparable-store sales for the A&F division increased 1 percent, its fourth consecutive quarter of growth.
“We’re pleased that we stabilized the brand,” Horowitz said. “There are lots of positive signs.”