Things are looking up for hot retailer of the 1990's, Abercrombie & Fitch. We all know by now that the Ohio-based brand, which was founded in 1982, has experienced a fall from grace, thanks, in part, to its inability to evolve rapidly enough (think: its scantily clad yet clean-cut white American teenagers as models just aren't that appealing anymore and its relatively high price point, high inventory and brick and mortar store model, which targets teens, isn't faring well in a faltering economy).
However, it seems that the brand is beginning to get its footing back. Earlier this year, the company announced that it had stripped controversial Chief Executive Mike Jeffries of his chairman duties, bowing to investor pressure to reduce his control over the struggling company. In December, A&F investor Engaged Capital, which owns about 400,000 shares, urged the company to find a replacement for Jeffries in lieu of renewing his contract, which was slated to end in February 2014. The general theme of the letter: “Investors in Abercrombie have endured poor performance due to poor leadership for far too long." CFO Jonathan Ramsden has been named the new CEO. But that's not all. Abercrombie seems to be policing its trademarks and going in a bit of a different direction in terms of advertising, as well.
As we have discussed in the past, an integral role of nearly every brand is the protection of its intellectual property, which includes its active trademarks, as if your mark becomes generic (when it began as a distinctive product identifier but has since lost its secondary meaning), it is essentially useless. While Abercrombie has policed its famous mark in the past (t0 some extent), it appears to be ramping up efforts in 2014. The brand (via counsel) has filed two suits so far in the Florida Southern District Court against an array of website operators selling counterfeit A&F merchandise. About 1,100 different domain names were listed on the company's two recently filed trademark infringement lawsuits.
Also, Abercrombie recently unveiled its Bruce Weber-lensed Spring campaign, The Making of a Star, which spotlights a group of rising actors and musicians who "capture the essence of the brand" (think Revenge's Christa B. Allen, Diego Boneta of 90210, andSteven R. McQueen, star of CW's The Vampire Diaries and grandson of filmmaker Steven McQueen, among others).