Has the controversial offer by US clothing chain Abercrombie and Fitch to pay a reality TV star not to wear its clothes been a stroke of PR genius or just another costly example of public relations miscalculation?
That’s the question currently hot on the lips of many in the PR profession, after it emerged that the upmarket fashion store offered a substantial payment to Jersey Shore cast member Mike Sorrentino, also known as The Situation, to wear an alternative brand of clothing.

The MTV show follows the lives of eight rowdy Italian-American housemates, as they spend the summer partying and revelling at a small New Jersey seaside resort. The latest series follows their antics as their jet off to Italy on an adventure back to their European roots.

In response to the move, Abercrombie and Fitch said that they were deeply concerned that Sorrentino’s association with its brand could cause significant damage to its image. The company has also extended its offer to other cast members, along with the producers of the show.

Meanwhile, shares in the company dropped by 9% amid investor concerns about the potential negative impact of all the surrounding media furore.

It is perhaps easy for PR people to see how investors may be concerned about the threat of such a show to the squeaky clean image of the Abercrombie and Fitch brand.

And all the more so, given that the company has only drawn more attention to the Jersey Shore connection through its recent actions.

Yet most people in the public relations industry suspect that the offer was not only a deliberate attempt to attract public attention but also a move that will almost certainly have a long-term positive effect.

And it all goes back to the old PR saying that all publicity is good publicity, as the overall increase in visibility looks set to counter any minor negative perception of the brand.