As part of a massive rebrand, Abercrombie & Fitch has wiped clean its Instagram account.
Now, when you land on its page, just three photos appear. The first is a block of text that reads, “People have a lot to say about us. They think they’ve got us figured out.” Underneath it is the caption, “What we’re thinking….”. The other two photos merely consist of a brand logo each.
The move is part of Abercrombie & Fitch’s ongoing efforts to upgrade its image. The wider campaign dubbed, “This is Abercrombie and Fitch,” includes a redesigned website, new digital advertising across digital and social media platforms, as well as billboards and outdoor advertising in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. In launching the campaign Thursday, it deleted thousands of photos from its Instagram history, as well as other social channels, sending a message to its 3.1 million followers on Instagram that it’s serious about starting fresh.
“This is a good play by Abercrombie,” said Brandwatch CMO Will McInnes. “Sales have been slumping and it would foolish to rebrand without its social accounts following suit.”
The brand did have to make drastic moves. Amid continued slumping sales — from $4.1 billion in 2012 to $3.7 billion last year — falling foot-traffic in malls, and changing shopping habits of millennials, the brand is hoping to reposition itself to be relevant again. The rebrand also comes under the guidance of Abercrombie & Fitch’s first creative director of marketing ever, Ashley Sargent Price.
While the move mirrors what other luxury brands have done before — In April this year Yves Saint Laurent cleared its Instagram account for the arrival of its new creative director Anthony Vaccarello, and DKNY did the same in August last year when Donna Karan stood down as its chief designer — for Abercrombie & Fitch it’s not about separating itself from a designer, but shedding an outdated exclusive cool-kid persona, which doesn’t align with millennials today.
But whether there’s payoff in shedding social media history, remains unclear. While most social media experts say it’s a good move, there’s little evidence it does anything more than create social chatter.
“I thought that was genius, personally,” said Rachna Shah executive vp at PR firm, KCD, about its reboot. “I don’t know if I’d ever recommend it, but I think it should be considered.”
Katie McDonald, senior social marketing manager at Huge, said it’s a drastic move when brands clear social channels and it gets people talking, which is only a good thing in terms of PR. But in Abercrombie & Fitch’s situation she questioned whether it’s enough to sustain people’s interest in the brand.
“It’s lost its relevancy,” McDonald said. “I don’t know if it would intrigue me to find out what happens next.”
“The act alone should be bringing you to something better, and it has to be something meaningful to the shopper,” said Jessica Navas, chief planning officer of Erwin Penland. She added what a brand does after it’s cleared a social channel is what makes the move worthwhile — or not.
“Abercrombie & Fitch is one of the most well established brands in America’s history, but a lot of it wasn’t positive,” she said. “Wiping the slate clean and removing the negatives doesn’t create a new brand.”