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« on: June 08, 2005, 07:43:17 AM »

A&F's Liquor Lionizing Shirts Tee Off MADD, Spur Public Protest

by Ed Thomas
June 7, 2005

(AgapePress) - A spokesperson for Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD), an organization that educates the public about the perils of driving intoxicated and other alcohol-related risks, says the willing involvement of average citizens was what ultimately led to success in an effort to get rid of a product that glorified drunkenness and irresponsible behavior.

Amy George, National Communications Manager for MADD, says the group was disappointed to learn earlier this year that the Abercrombie & Fitch company, whose target demographic is 18- to 22-year-olds, was marketing tee shirts with slogans exalting drunkenness and associated sexual behavior. The products and their messages are particularly disturbing, she notes, at a time of year when proms and graduations are going on or are just around the corner.

The advocacy group sent an open letter to Abercrombie & Fitch, expressing its dismay over the irresponsible tee shirts. According to George, this is the second time in the last five years that alcohol-related products have been marketed by A&F in its catalogue. However, knowing the retailer's history and reputation, she suspects it was not MADD's letter but rather the outcry of consumers not even affiliated with the group which ultimately got the company to change its mind.

"MADD was very disappointed at Abercrombie & Fitch's reckless marketing practices promoting alcohol use, underage drinking, and binge drinking," George says. "The good news is, the public won out in the end. And it is really proof that the public has a lot of power when it sees something that is irresponsible." By expressing disapproval, she points out, the public can make a real difference "when it comes to underage drinking or binge drinking."

In fact, the MADD spokeswoman contends, officials at A&F "only took action because of public outcry. If the people would not have responded, called and mailed, I don't know if they would have seen the error of their ways."

But thanks to the complaints of concerned individuals, along with MADD's formal letter to Abercrombie & Fitch Corporate, the offending products have all been removed from the retailer's inventory. George says the official and unofficial protests helped bring about a halt of the drunken recklessness-promoting tee shirt sales all within two weeks in May, and the disturbing items had been pulled from A&F's catalogue and website during that time.

Ed Thomas, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.


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