There’s been a lot of controversy over Abercrombie and Fitch’s CEO Mike Jeffries‘ statements about his clothing line. Jeffries publicly acknowledged what anyone with eyesight had already figured out, that Abercrombie and Fitch is designed for super-fit people. You don’t run ad campaigns like theirs if you’re targeting everyman. And you don’t limit your dress sizes to 10 and under if you’re going after every-woman. But apparently Jeffries public statements like: ““We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends” and “A lot of people don’t belong, and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely” have pushed many people over the edge. While Abercrombie and Fitch is certainly basking in a lot of publicity, most of it is harsh. It’ll be interesting to see if their sales take a hit this quarter and also in the long term. For every one Jeffries’ offended, he also may have reaffirmed to many of his customers why they love his clothes so much.
So today I saw a post on the Facebook DJ Group DJ Idea Sharing by a Texan DJ named Scott Shirley. Apparently the original post was from a few years ago but somebody recently commented on it so it’s pushed the debate back out onto many of our timelines and so there’s been a recent flurry of new comments. Scott has a sign that he uses at Bridal Shows and in his office that clearly states how he feels about “cheesy music.”
I have to say I have a similar reaction to both Mike Jeffries statement and Scott Shirley’s sign:
1- Kudos to you for bravely defining who your clientele is.
2- Be Ready for the Fallout
Now certainly Scott’s sign is not as controversial, nor is his company big enough, to garner the national press that Mike Jeffries has produced. So the comparison between the two are admittedly comical on that scale. But I do see similarities in that both are an attempt to exclude some clientele while reassuring others. Scott Shirley’s sign basically says “if you like The Chicken Dance or The Electric Slide or We Are Family move along. I’m not the DJ for you.” Fine. That’s Scott’s opinion and he’s entitled to it (just as Mr. Jeffries is entitled to his.) And being the ultimate capitalist that I am (and believing that in most cases, the market will decide) I say, don’t be offended, vote with your wallet. If enough people stop buying Abercrombie and Fitch clothing they will either go out of business or drastically change their tune. And seeing how Scott Shirley is still in business two and half years after showing the world his Cheese Sign, he clearly hasn’t hurt himself that much by defining his clientele. In fact for every “Chicken Dance Lover” he’s turned off, he may have reaffirmed a different Bride who lays awake at night tossing and turning with visions of her guests dancing like chickens at her wedding.
Indeed some industry people who have seen my company perform at bridal shows (where we entertain and involve the guests with the YMCA, Electric Slide and a Conga Line) have asked me a similar question (albeit from the exact opposite perspective), “aren’t you afraid of turning off clients who don’t want participation songs like this?” My answer is usually two-fold: First, yes that is a fear which we try to assuage during our sales rap at these shows (where we basically apologize for doing all those dances and let the brides and grooms-to-be know that the music at their weddings will be selected by them and they are welcome to give us as big a “don’t play list” as they want) . And secondly, if given the choice between a bride who wants some involvement from us, or a bride that wants us to stay behind the DJ console all night and just play music, we’ll take the former.
Reading through this thread on Facebook, I see so many DJs trying to correct Scott Shirley. Comments like (and I’m paraphrasing) “who are you to define cheese?” and “that sign is cheesier than The Chicken Dance” etc. I have a different perspective: Good for you, Scott Shirley. I think it’s important to know your target market and be brave enough to state it. Maybe Mike Jeffries did offend a lot of people. But maybe it’ll turn out that the vast majority of the people he offended wouldn’t (or in most cases couldn’t [because Abercrombie and Fitch doesn't carry their size]) shop in his stores anyway. And maybe a bunch of brides have walked by Scott Shirley’s booth at a bridal show and thought, “well that’s not the guy for us” (although does a bride who likes cheese know it’s cheese?). Just as, I’m sure, the Elite Entertainment showcase has turned plenty of brides off through the years. Couples who are adamant that they don’t want the YMCA and then hear it at our shows may have already tuned us out by the time we get to the caveat in our sales rap. But that’s ok, as I said about Scott Shirley, Elite’s still in business.
So whether you define your clientele with a sign, some public statements from the CEO or by handing out leis and leading a Conga Line at a bridal show, I say kudos to you for taking that step. Just be prepared for whatever fallout comes next.