MINNEAPOLIS -- They've become the brand known for its provocative images. But the latest ad campaign by Abercrombie & Fitch may be more than just ruffling feathers -- at least one image is outright offending people.
"Pretty trashy," said Kim Foley of Golden Valley when she saw the latest Abercrombie poster.
Foley is not alone. KARE 11's Julie Nelson snapped a photo of the provocative poster during a Christmas shopping trip this last weekend. She posted the picture on her Facebook page, where hundreds of people weighed in on the image.
But experts say that's exactly the kind of attention the company set out to garner when they opted for the sexy pose.
"The Abercrombie brand is clearly about skin," said John Marinovich, CEO and Partner of AB Group One Brand Marketing Agency.
Marinovich said the latest image does push the boundaries beyond what the company has historically done, in that it shows actual physical contact. Still, he said it's consistent with the company's commitment to an edgy approach that always prompts additional buzz.
"This type of buzz, talk value, is huge for this brand. It's a big part of their personality, and they want this controversy," he said.
Controversy has long been part of Abercrombie's ad campaigns. For the last decade and more, the company has been the subject of several news reports. The stories have delved into the company's preferred advertising approach, from erotic poses in Christmas catalogs to padded bras aimed at younger girls.
But at the end of the retail day, the company's approach seems to work. A recent Wall Street Journal article described the company as a retail "winner," with net sales for the last quarter increasing 21% to $1.076 billion from $885.8 million the previous year.
Experts suggest the retail giant isn't going anywhere anytime soon, not with those numbers and an insatiable appetitite among fashion-conscious teens and pre-teens.
"I'm not sure that there isn't a little more cache to young people to having their parents not like the brand," Marinovich said. "Because the last thing kids want is for parents to like the brand, too."
Marinovich suggests parents who are concerned about the ad try talking to their children about marketing and how the clothes are being presented.
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