When Professor Barstow spoke of Larry Summers’ leaked 1991 World Bank memo, it got me thinking about what happens when the public explicitly knows what you’re up to as an organization. Sometimes, even though the perceived truth is undeniable, nobody wants to actually hear it out loud. Although it might be advantageous to dump toxic waste in third world countries, nobody wants to know that’s your plan.
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids”.
Some things are better left unsaid, at least publicly. That’s what Abercrombie & Fitch CEO learned the hard way in 2013, when talk of his 2006 interview with Salon.com resurfaced into the public spotlight.
Take a look at this image pulled off of the Abercrombie & Fitch Home Page.
It isn’t hard to see that they do in fact target “the attractive all-American kid”, they do in fact exclusively “market to cool, good-looking people”, and that are absolutely exclusionary.
All successful companies have a marketing campaign, and these campaigns are often targeted to specific groups (wealthy, minorities, athletes etc.). Sometimes the message is subtle, other times, not-so-subtle. But I think we can all agree that having the CEO shout the message from the mountaintops is a bit too much of a power move. Sometimes you should just let the indirect marketing run its course, let the speculators speculate, and keep some intentions in the boardroom.