Did someone say, “Bikinis with push-up tops for 8-year-olds?”

Abercrombie & Fitch is selling the ‘Ashley push-up triangle’ top  which features thick padding in the cup to give the illusion of a larger chest size. What’s news about that? It’s for girls 8 to 14.

Yes, for a mere $24.50 you too can pimp out your not-yet-tween girl and remind her that its all about the cup size.

Ambercrombie bikini

It’s good to see that old A&F (where my grandfather once went to kit-up for safaris) is keeping true to its newer brand promise of making money off the sexual exploitation of children. (If they’re going to do that shouldn’t they be a division of American Apparel? Here are the details on the latest in a long line of sex harassment suits against CEO Dov Charney.)

A few other things A&F has done to live up to its brand promise:

  • Ads that feature shop assistants in lieu of models, often posing semi-nude.
  • An ‘Impact Team’ to ensure all employees comply with its ‘look policy’.
  • Paid $2.2 million to settle a suit over allegations it forced its employees to buy and wear its clothes while on the job.
  • Paid $50 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought by pretty much every non-Caucasian who made the mistake of getting a job with A&F.
  • Paid $13K to an employee forced to work out of site of the public because she had a prosthetic arm

Vogue’s hot, new fashion trend: Sexually exploiting children for fun and profit

Here’s what Xeni Jardin said at BoingBoing and I can’t do better (click here if you want to see one of the pictures.):

The December issue of French Vogue, edited by Tom Ford, features an extensive spread of child models presented more or less like whores. The girl above is 6. Lemme spell that for you: s-i-x! I’m a big Tom Ford fan. Or, well, was. Artistic freedom and everything, and no, this shouldn’t be made illegal—but I believe this is Totally Not Cool.

Apparently French Vogue is where they run all the most appalling stuff. They managed to hit #5 on 2009’s list of Top 10 Marketing Blunders with a salute to black-face featuring a photo spread of the very Caucasian Lara Stone painted head-to-toe in dark make-up. Keep up the good work gang! It’s going to take a lot of work to keep them out of 2011’s Top 10.

An Expose of the Baby-Industrial Complex

This story I wrote years ago about how marketers prey upon the self-inflicted fears of new parents has been getting a lot of traffic of late, so I thought I’d give it a plug.

FIRST, LET’S DISPENSE WITH any pretense of objectivity, I am a paranoid, first-time parent. As I write this, my son Greg is playing quietly and contentedly in his room. At one year old, he coos, takes tentative steps, laughs, screams like the devil’s on his tail when he wants to, beats his arm in time to music (at least as well as his father), and in general seems to thoroughly enjoy his life.That’s why I’m convinced he’s autistic.

Either that or it’s another neurological malady no one will notice until it’s far too late. Yesterday he was scratching at a bug bite, and I instantly knew it was lyme disease. Today he is crying more than usual, which means he is undoubtedly suffering from the first horrible arthritic symptoms of the disease.

I am not alone in this private hell. My wife has diagnosed nearly as many ailments as I have. Her biggest fear seems to be breathing stoppage. Not choking, just immediate, independent cessation, sort of like spontaneous human combustion of the lungs. This is what exposure to too many warnings about sudden infant death syndrome will do to you.

All of which makes us only slightly less rational than any of the other new parents we know. It also makes us the perfect marks for the Baby Industrial Complex (BIC), whose motto seems to be: If You Scare Them, They Will Spend. The BIC’s ad campaigns have refined this application of guilt and fear to a fine art. Their message: You are a bad parent. Your child is going to die a horrible death unless you buy our products.

You can read the rest here if you want.

(BTW, just so you can gauge the accuracy of my predictions: Greg is fine and finishes sixth grade this month. Well, at least I think he’s fine — there’s always the chance he has … )

Three stories by me from Brandweek

First, the one that won me the coveted Satan beat: Companies Have Devil Of A Time Denying Rumors

16th minute logoNext is this week’s installment of The 16th Minute: Pet food recall catches brands with their product down.

Then there’s the full-length story on the problems with marketers and Second Life: Are marketers dying on Second Life?

Short takes …

  1. Apparently I do write for something other than this blog: As Bombs Fall From Sky in Beirut, One Group of Marketers Points to the Sun
  2. Even by my obsessive parenting standards this is over the top: “A Kentucky-based software company is helping parents keep track of what their children are eating while they’re at school.” Kids need to use a special code when they purchase food at school then parents can go online and see what their kids have been buying. “The program also lets parents prevent their children from purchasing certain foods by putting them on a banned item list.”
  3. Group of masked men enter Indiana Taco-Bell toting six 40-gallon trash bags filled with individual packets of taco sauce – about 25,000 in all.” They were returning it. See, the software works.
  4. CURSE THE PEOPLE OF GEORGIA!! They have voted out one of the most amusing people ever to sit in the US House of Representatives: Cynthia McKinney. Gosh, I hope there’s another fool waiting in the wings to keep me amused.