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Focus on the Family's Dobson Says Abercrombie & Fitch Still Can't Be Trusted; Clothier Will Stop Producing 'Pornographic' Catalogs, But What Will Replace Them?

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by Focus on the Family:

Abercrombie & Fitch's decision to discontinue its quarterly catalogs filled with sexually explicit images and articles offers no assurances to American families that the clothier will get out of the business of exploiting teenagers for profit, said Focus on the Family Chairman Dr. James Dobson today.

A&F announced Tuesday night, in a brief written statement, that it "believes it is time for new thinking" and that it "looks forward to unveiling an innovative and exciting campaign" in the spring. The decision comes in the midst of a nationwide boycott called by several pro-family groups -- during which time Abercrombie & Fitch's sales and stock prices have fallen precipitously.

Dobson said while it is good news for teenagers and their parents that A&F has produced its last "pornographic" quarterly catalog, the company's use of words like "innovative" and "exciting" should give families pause.

"These are the very words Abercrombie & Fitch has used in the past to describe its photos and stories about inappropriate sexual behavior," Dobson said. "There is no evidence that they have changed their minds about the sexual exploitation of teenagers being a perfectly acceptable way to make a buck. Indeed, pictures of nude young people still hang on the walls of A&F stores!"

Dobson added that A&F has hardly positioned itself as trustworthy since the boycott of its stores was launched a month ago. When the company decided over Thanksgiving to remove its latest catalog, the "2003 Christmas Field Guide," from stores, it claimed the reason wasn't pressure from the boycott -- but the need for more counter space to sell .47- and 1.7-oz. bottles of perfume. A company spokesman also said at that time that the spring quarterly would debut on schedule in January, and would include the same "butts and partial nudity."

Those statements, Dobson said, should lead all Americans to demand proof of a real change in marketing strategy from Abercrombie & Fitch. After all, he said, the company has a long history of responding to controversy by pulling an offensive marketing gimmick, only to dream up another one later. A 1998 binge-drinking promotion, for instance, ended after protests from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, only to be followed by last year's thong underwear for 10-year-old girls (with the words "Eye Candy" and "Wink, Wink" printed on them) and a T-shirt bearing an ethnically insensitive cartoon.

"We've had a national ad campaign in the works for some time and we're going to move ahead with it," Dobson explained. "And we urge the many parents and teens who have already taken a stand, who have refused to patronize this company, to continue to refuse to do business with Abercrombie & Fitch until it is clear they can be trusted to stop taking advantage of our children."

James C. Dobson, Ph.D. is a psychologist, author, radio broadcaster and founder of Focus on the Family. Founded in 1977, Focus on the Family is a nonprofit Christian organization committed to strengthening the family in the U.S. and throughout the world.

CONTACT: Paul Hetrick of Focus on the Family, +1-719-531-3336, press@family.org
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Date:Dec 11, 2003
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