Silence: the golden strategy?

“Mark Twain once proclaimed that ‘If you have nothing to say, then say nothing.” Two highly mediatised events over the past year should remind managers that such literary advice from the 19th Century is just as relevant in the 21st Century business world.”

“Abercrombie and Fitch: “No fat, ugly people”

The most well known case is the infamous Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) “fat, ugly, people” debacle. Faced with criticism that the store did not have clothes for larger sized women (though it does for men), CEO Mike Jeffries came clean about the corporate strategy. He only wanted the “cool” and “beautiful” to be seen wearing their clothes and did not want his products on “fat, ugly people.” Full marks for blatant honesty perhaps but as a communication approach it was a disaster. The following day the stock price of A&F fell by 17%. Mr Jefferies also seemed to have forgotten exactly who were his major customers. Many of them were young people with a developed notion of social responsibility. They might want to look good and feel “cool” but they don’t want to be associated with such elitist opinions.”

“Sales plummeted over the next quarter at Abercrombie & Fitch dragging its share price from a high of $56 to just $31 (a level it has barely improved in the last 18 months.)”

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