* Cast offered money by company to stop wearing A&F
* The Situation causing "significant damage"
* Situation wearing A&F "terrible" news to exec
(Adds MTV comment, Situation Tweet; updates share price)
By Roy Strom
NEW YORK, Aug 17 Teen clothing retailer
Abercrombie & Fitch Co (ANF.N) has offered money to get away
from what it sees as an undesirable Situation.
The preppy retailer has offered to pay cast members from
MTV's popular show "Jersey Shore" to stop wearing its clothes,
it said in a news release late on Tuesday.
The company is "deeply concerned" that Michael "The
Situation" Sorrentino "could cause significant damage" to the
brand's "aspirational nature."
MTV, a unit of Viacom Inc VIAb.N, released a statement in
response that called Abercrombie's offer "a clever PR stunt."
"We'd love to work with them on other ways they can
leverage Jersey Shore to reach the largest youth audience on
television," the statement said.
"Jersey Shore" features a cast of twenty-something Italian
Americans partying, tanning and complaining about their jobs at
a beach-front T-shirt stand.
The offer could be considered an abrupt about-face for a
company that previously sold T-shirts emblazoned with the
wording "The Fitchuation," and "G.T.L." -- the show's common
reference to a pre-party routine of "gym, tan lunch."
Abercrombie Chief Executive Officer Mike Jeffries was eager
to broach the topic on a conference call with analysts.
"Is no one going to ask about The Situation?" he asked.
When an analyst did ask, Jeffries said: "Last Friday
morning I was with a group of people here and someone came up
and said, 'Mike, I have terrible, terrible news for you. Last
night on 'Jersey Shore' The Situation had A&F product on."
Jeffries said he and the group agreed it was "terrible
That is when they came up with the idea to pay the cast not
to wear their product, Jeffries said.
"We're having a lot of fun with it," he added.
The Situation, for his part, tweeted: "Looks like
Abercrombie got themself into a Situation!" linking to an
article that commented on the retailer's shares falling 8.7
percent on Wednesday.
The share price fall was more widely attributed by analysts
to CEO Mike Jeffries' comments in a conference call that
Abercrombie was entering a period of greater uncertainty.
While seen as more of a publicity stunt than anything else,
Abercrombie's offer was mentioned in notes on Wednesday by Wall
"No love for 'Jersey Shore!'" Nomura Securities Analyst
Peter Lejuez wrote in a report titled, "Jersey abs not welcome
Lejuez said shoppers in Europe, a region in which he says
Abercrombie is eager to expand, may not like the look of the
rambunctious reality show's cast.
"They have a different look than The Situation," Lejuez
said in an interview.
Abercrombie also reported earnings on Wednesday that beat
The results prompted Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian
Sozzi to write: "Management may be correct in asking (and
offering to pay) the cast of 'Jersey Shore' to stop donning its
logo-wear. It doesn't need the infusion of MTV and side-job
dollars from the 'Jersey Shore' crew, if 2Q11 was any
Sozzi said he found the offer to be "counter to everything
the company stands for."
"They have half-naked teenagers standing in front of their
store," he said, adding that the attention would help sales for
the back-to-school season.
Still, those sales might need help. A cautious outlook from
executives sent Abercrombie shares down 8.7 percent at the
market close to $64.87.
(Editing by Gerald E. McCormick; editing by Andre Grenon)