Hollister’s fictitious brand story – does it matter?
I can’t claim to know much about Abercrombie & Fitch’s sister brand, Hollister, and if I did, I suspect it’s somewhere that might be outside of both my price and age brackets. To be fair though, Hollister’s presence in the UK is pretty new – the first store, at Brent Cross, opened only last year – with Meadowhall and the Trafford Centre currently its most northerly outposts.
Despite my limited knowledge of the retailer, I was still quite interested to read the BBC’s article today about what it describes as Hollister’s ‘fictitious’ branding. Essentially, the BBC has ‘uncovered’ that there is no historical foundation for the use of the ‘1922’ device on Hollister’s logos and labels, and that the whole ‘story’ behind the business – actually founded in 2000 – is made up.
In reality, the BBC’s article is not quite the scoop that it first appears, given that the Wikipedia article about Hollister has openly referred to the business’s “fictional background story” – downloadable in full from the A&F website – since at least January this year. Given that it’s no secret, it would surely have been better for Hollister’s press people to point this out to the BBC themselves, moulding the story into some positive PR for the brand, rather than giving a silly response – “Due to our policies regarding press, we choose not to provide any comment on your questions” – that simply appears to add substance to the BBC’s implied criticism.
Nevertheless, the debate about whether all this matters is still an interesting one. The question, essentially, is this – does anybody really care about the authenticity of Hollister’s history as long as they like the clothes and can relate to the brand’s “harmony of romance, beauty, adventure and today”?
It’s certainly true that retailers have long created brands that evoke the American dream – after all, with their respective ‘Cedarwood State’, ‘Atlantic Bay’ and ‘Blue Harbour’ sub-brands, even Primark, Bhs and M&S are at it.
I do wonder, however, if founding an entire retailer’s brand on a made-up story is maybe an evocation too far.
Your comments, as always, are welcomed…