NEW ALBANY, Ohio (The Blaze/AP) -- Abercrombie & Fitch is offering to pay Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and his fellow "Jersey Shore" cast members so they'll stop wearing the brand on the show.
The clothing company says in a news release posted Tuesday that it's concerned that having Sorrentino seen in its clothing could cause "significant damage" to the company's image.
Abercrombie says a connection to The Situation goes against the "aspirational nature" of its brand and may be "distressing" to customers. The Ohio-based retailer says it has offered a "substantial payment" to Sorrentino and producers of the MTV show so he'll wear something else.
“We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino's association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. 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,“ an Abercrombie & Fitch spokesperson said in a statement. “We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.“
An MTV spokeswoman did not immediately return messages for comment on Wednesday.
However, the press release and the entire story has raised flags among skeptics, who say the move doesn't make sense and could just all be a publicity stunt. The Atlantic sorts through those rumors:
People see through A&F's offer. The real reason Abercrombie has called to ban the brand from the MTV star's bronzed body is obvious, argues The Cut's Amy Odell. "Oh Abercrombie is loving this, especially since every blog from here to Mars won't be able to resist running that press release today." People used to rail against the company's inappropriate models, but then moms got over it and the chatter died down. They miss the attention. Was A&F even pretending to be serious? Women's Wear Daily wonders: "It wasn’t clear whether the offer was a serious one, or simply a tongue-in-cheek attempt to gain publicity."
Not only have critics noted the previous Jersey Shore-Abercrombie & Fitch collaboration, but the store's image aligns pretty well with The Situation's. It's not like Abercrombie is above nudity. A shirtless Situation isn't all that different than their naked models and skimpy apparel, argues Women's Wear Daily. "After all, A&F is the retailer whose catalogues of shirtless (and sometimes bottomless) male models used to generate squeals of complaint." They are all about shirtless men with six packs. LA Times Media reporter Joe Flint put it well in this tweet. "Sorry, but every time I walk by Abercrombie store it seems to me Situation is perfect example of what store is all about now."
What do you think? Legitimate concern, or publicity ploy?