Obama & Fitch coverage

Posted by Rob Walker on April 23, 2008
Posted Under: Involuntary branding,Murketing,Politics

So, as clever readers may have figured out already, I’m not really around the Murketing HQ this week, I’m “on the road,” as they say. Today, in my hotel room, I’m watching the endless loop of Obama and Clinton clips, with the sound down, and I get interested in this one Obama clip, because this one kid behind him is wearing a T-shirt that catches my eye, and as I look harder I realize that there are three frat-looking white dudes behind him all wearing Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts. I think: Weird.

When I finally get a minute to Google, I see that of course it’s been noticed by the trad press (online), and the blognoscenti.

USA Today (online) says:

We just spoke with Tom Lennox, an A&F spokesman. “I guarantee and assure you it’s not” a product placement, he said. The company was as surprised as anyone to see the three guys, Lennox added.

This is a good example of what I hate and love and hate about the Web. On the one hand, I am annoyed that my observation is already played out. On the other hand, I am pleased that others have noticed this and are on the case. On the third hand, this is just kind of triviality that the Web is best at, but I can’t really condemn anyone else for being obsessed with triviality, because I was too.

So there you have it. All I need now is a comment telling me I’m really late on this. Anybody?

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

i saw this as well and i was trying to figure out what it meant if obama’s people had purposely placed all the background people in there – like they were trying to say old white people and young frat boys are also backing him so you should too.

Written By jeff on April 24th, 2008 @ 11:13 pm

the inevitable has happened (and already getting blogged):


Written By discoczech on April 25th, 2008 @ 11:35 am

For me, this brings to mind another point. Why do politicians always have to have people behind them when they speak? I would think it would be annoying to be one of these people, because as you’re listening to the speaker, your every move is being watched by everyone watching the speaker. So you scratch your nose or whatever, and everything you do makes you look like a big dork, like you’re not paying attention, just because you’re some other person in the background of this major political figure.

Also, are the people hand-selected to present whoever the politician wants to portray as the broad range of constituents who like him/her? It seems like they are, and it’s pretty heavy-handed. “Look, some frat guys, a couple of middle aged white guys, and a Latina soccer mom, all enjoying Obama together!” (No soccer moms visible in this shot, but I’m sure they were there.)

Written By Rebecca on April 25th, 2008 @ 1:49 pm

Yes, the blogosphere is obsessive, but I accept it as a job. Jeff makes the real point I think which is what are Obama’s strategists/stage-setters trying to get at here? Is this the Indiana demographic that strategists think will put Obama over the top? And if so exactly which demographic(S) is it?

Written By ben on April 25th, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

Oh my god, Obamacrombie is really something.

All the points here about the theatrics of who stands behind the candidate are all great, and I wish i had some answers. I can only add that if the Obama people had any role in this, then everyone who’s gassed on about the campaign’s awesome brand/logo/design/marketing powers needs to recant, because three guys in A&F T’s is NOT the right message, at all. Maybe an A&F, an Ecko, and some really obscure underground brand. But A&F x 3 is just off on every level.

My completely unreported speculative theory would be: A&F has some kind of college rep program, not unlike what record companies used to do, and is now common in many industries — basically you sign up an “intern” on various campuses to be some kind of “evangelist” or whatever for the brand (meaning talk it up to your friends and we give you free samples and so on, just like the record labels did). So one of these guys is a nearby campus A&F rep and those are two of his buddies, or they know the A&F rep, or something.

Please note I made this up, I have no idea if A&F has such a program, I just know it’s pretty common, and could explain this.

Written By Rob Walker on April 25th, 2008 @ 8:01 pm

so instead of Raj, Bohemian, we’ve got Ray, Fratboy?

Written By discoczech on April 27th, 2008 @ 1:27 am

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