Whether or not it is morally acceptable for Abercrombie and Fitch to use nudity and sexuality in its advertising is not the real question; rather, it is whether or not it is ethical for Abercrombie to use classical conditioning to program society in a manner that forces consumers to associate uncontrolled desires with a basic brand of clothing. This company has successfully associated two things which are the antithesis of one another: clothing and nudity.
Abercrombie and Fitch maintains its outstanding competitive advantage with its unparalleled marketing tactics. No firm in history has applied the use of sexuality and physical beauty in marketing better than Abercrombie and Fitch. They have successfully forced consumers to make a direct link between eroticism, homoeroticism, beauty and perfection with a decent and simple, yet unique style of clothing. Abercrombie has ignored its social and moral responsibility by forcing consumers to make decisions based on their uncontrolled sexual desires.
Michael Solomon and Elnora Stuart describe classical conditioning in Marketing: Real People, Real Choices.:
The learning that occurs when a stimulus eliciting a response is paired with another stimulus that initially does not elicit a response on its own but will cause a similar response over time because of its association with the first stimulus (170)
Classical conditioning is an ethical practice in a variety of circumstances. Many drug companies use this tactic in advertising, associating a beautiful sunset or race car driver with a particular drug. The consumer will access a fairly harmless positive response that is the view of a sunset or the thought of the race car driver, when they are faced with the drug’s brand name or logo.
The standard for measuring the responsibility of a marketing campaign is based on what stimulus the campaign seeks to bring in association with the product. Most of us would concede that a firm trying to...
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