An Open Letter From an “Uncool Kid”


Anup Samanta Responds to Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Declaring his Target Market “The Cool Kids”


Dear Mr. Jeffries,

Since you are a seasoned business executive, please define the “cool kids” market segment that is the “bread and butter” (inappropriate metaphor for your body image conscious stakeholders, but I really couldn’t help it) for your business.

I received my masters’ degree in integrated marketing communications (IMC) from Northwestern University one month before you explained your niche marketing strategy to Salon. Back then, I wondered, “How does this corporate leader define and size the ‘cool kids’ market segment.”

I think you defined your “cool kids” market segment based on what YOU, not objective research or analysis, felt was antithetical to YOUR definition of cool. As a Medill IMC alum, let me help you define the “cool kids” market.

  • A “cool kid” creates an application for a smartphone.
  • A “cool kid” volunteers their time to serve meals at a soup kitchen.
  • A “cool kid” shatters their school’s track-and-field records.
  • A “cool kid” comes out of the closet and defends their sexual orientation to bullies.
  • A “cool kid” stays up all night to study for an exam, write a paper or prepare for a presentation.
  • A “cool kid” helps a buddy who needs guidance and support.
  • A “cool kid” falls in unrequited love with someone he or she can’t have, but can’t help how he or she feels.
  • A “cool kid” doesn’t tolerate abuse from adults.
  • A “cool kid” is a kid who wears his or her heart on his or her sleeve.

I could go on and on and on about what it means to be a “cool kid”. Did your research uncover these insights? I doubt it did because you have a narrow minded perspective on what it means to be a “cool kid”. Before your public relations people tell you to apologize to the world about your ignorance, I would recommend that you re-define what it means to be a “cool kid”. Think long and hard about this definition. If all you can see are washboard abdominal muscles, then your business will fail in the long term.


An “Uncool Kid”


photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

About Anup Samanta

Management consultant during the day. Aspiring writer at night. Using every second of my with as much happiness and passion as possible. No regrets about yesterday, no fears about tomorrow. Please follow me on Twitter: @stratelysis


  1. Jameseq says:

    jeffries is an interesting fellow.
    media reports make a&f hq sound like everyday is groundhog dude day.
    anyone know if in high school, was he in the in-crowd, or was his faced pressed against the window watching the in-crowd singing and dancing to ‘the in-crowd’ – dobie gray

    ‘we got our own way of walking,we got our own way of talking’ dude

  2. Anup Samanta says:

    Thank you, gentlemen. I don’t think it is wrong for a brand to have a niche market segment or a sense of exclusivity about themselves. But which leader talks to the press about why their company doesn’t target their product to a certain kind of person?

    What is most deplorable about Jeffries’ is that he reinforces the social division that already occurs among kids in high school and college. I simply don’t know how some of these people sleep at night.

    • No one like Mr Jeffries “just is” or “just does” anything beyond their natural element. The campaign of division (ok…elitism) has been underway at AF for a very very long time. I keep looking at Ralph. His marketing crew does well without the twisted bizarre fiction. I mean really! Have you ever seen a 20 young men THAT in-shape, playing greased-up tackle football in just briefs that AF doesn’t even sell?

      OK…I use to, but there were only 19 of us.

  3. The AF Cool Kids APPEAR to think they are entitled to just about anything.
    The AF Cool Kids APPEAR to be bold and possibly arrogant.
    The AF Cool Kids APPEAR to walk on the bones of generations of the uncool.
    The AF Cool Kids APPEAR to be “life’s winners” according to someone’s definition whom I have not yet met. Maybe that’s why you feel you need to exploit their naked skin in your visual promotions?

    The AF campaigns sell on generated perceptions. YOU generate them…consumers perceive them.

    APPEAR = “Perception” in consumer marketing. And, Mr Jeffries, you appear to be aggressively exclusionary to this consumer. I think that I’ll stick with Ralph.

  4. Agreed. One can only hope that he will think long and hard about it. But I’m not holding out much hope. Of course, if he doesn’t think about it, I’m sure the board of directors and the shareholders will.


  1. […] response to the Jeffries interview, marketing consultant Anup Samanta penned an “Open Letter from an ‘Uncool Kid”  on the Good Men Project in which he tries to define a […]

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