Here’s a link to a story that’s making the rounds online, that of filmmaker Greg Karber taking issue with Abercrombie & Fitch’s branding of their clothes. Give it a look:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2324748/Abercrombie-Fitchs-brand-readjustment-Filmmaker-hands-clothes-LA-homeless-revenge-wanting-beautiful-customers.html?ico=ushome%5Eeditors_choice_six_of_the_best

Okay, I can hear a lot of you cheering out there along the lines of “Way to go, Karber! Way to show this jerkass company what’s what by taking matters into your own hands and helping the homeless at the same time! You’re a hero!” I know similar things are being said because I read a lot of such sentiments on my Facebook news feed.

And here’s where I step up and say “I disagree. A lot.”

This whole “rebranding” thing bothers me.

First, let me say that I think Abercrombie & Fitch are being douchebags in how they market their clothes and what they do with their overstock. Here’s the thing, though…It’s their choice. I don’t agree with the choice they made, but I respect that it was their choice to make. It’s free country and they are a business. If you don’t like their brand or marketing, the solution is to not buy their product. That’s your choice and it needs to be respected just as much as the A&F’s right to make their choice.

What Greg Karber has done has taken it solely upon himself to try to make A&F’s choice for them. And that is wrong. It is fundamentally arrogant.

“But he’s doing it for a good cause,” I hear you say, “He’s helping the homeless and trying to make the world a better place, which A&F should be doing.”

On that last part, I’ll say, “What gives him the right to tell anyone else, individual or large company, what to do and how to do it? His moral superiority?” If you agree that he’s in the right by acting as he does, I’m guessing it’s because you agree with his position. The problem is: what happens when he or someone just as motivated starts applying their moral barometer to your life in a way you don’t share ideologically? We’re back to choice and each person’s right to make their choice as they see fit. No one should take that away from you or anyone else.

As for the “doing it for a good cause” motive…? No, that’s not why he’s doing it. He’s doing it out of spite, or as the article above puts it, he’s doing it for revenge. Does it matter why, so long as he’s helping people? His cause is to re-brand A&F to align with his own sensibilities and to say A&F are jerks for how they behave. The “help” the homeless get with receiving free clothes is incidental to his cause. And what happens after he feels he’s made his point? Will his “help” continue?

Now, to address an even deeper problem I have with this re-branding notion. Karber is a filmmaker, so to partially answer my own earlier question of “”What gives him the right to tell anyone else, individual or large company, what to do and how to do it?”, he is an artist. As an artist myself, I respect using one’s medium to convey messages and ideas, to try to bring about change (hopefully positive) in our world. What I don’t respect in Karber’s case is, in addition to the aforementioned issues I take with this campaign, is his exploitation of the homeless to make his point. He points the camera at the homeless and hands them free clothes. Again, his motive is to show up A&F, so he needs the less-fortunate in order to make to his point. The people he gives clothes to aren’t in a position to turn it down and say, “No, we will not be exploited!” Of course they’re going to take what’s given and be thankful. That doesn’t make them any less taken advantage of, put in a position of gain solely because an artist needs to use them to make his point.

So, yeah, this whole thing bothers me. A lot.

Because neither side deserves any more free advertising, I’m not putting an image up that relates to either A&F or Karber. Instead, here’s a picture of a puppy. You’re welcome!

Who's a good little puppy?!  (copyright unknown)

Who’s a good little puppy?!
(copyright unknown)

 

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