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Abercrombie & Fitch ads hit


Christine McConville

Boston Herald
March 13, 2008


The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a Boston-based advocacy group, is the mastermind behind mounting outrage about an Ohio hospital’s plan to name its new wing after a company that uses sex-drenched imagery to sell bras, panties and low-rise jeans to preteens.

Public health professionals and parents groups have been condemning a decision by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, to name its not-yet-built emergency department after Abercrombie & Fitch.

The Ohio-based retailer donated $10 million to the expanding hospital two years ago.

“An institution that is supposed to be promoting health is promoting a brand that is the antithesis of children’s health,” said Josh Golin, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s associate director.

The group, which is part of the Judge Baker Children’s Center in Mission Hill, has asked the hospital to reverse its decision.

Abercrombie & Fitch is wildly popular among preteens, but many parents are offended by the company, which has sold to young girls such items as T-shirts with “Who Needs Brains When You’ve Got These?” written across the chest.

A few years ago, the company marketed thong underwear with “Eye Candy” written on them to 10-year-old girls.

“When it comes to marketing to children, A&F is among the worst corporate predators,” said the campaign’s director Dr. Susan Linn.

The group became involved in the cause after a physician at Nationwide called, looking for help.

The campaign has waged many successful, high-profile battles against corporations - including Kellogg’s and McDonald’s - after child advocates said these companies were doing things that exploited kids.

But late yesterday, the hospital showed no signs of backing down.

Yesterday, Jon Fitzgerald, president of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation, defended the charitable retailer, saying, “We are grateful to all donors that choose to support our work.”

Also, Abercrombie & Fitch spokesman Thomas Lennox said the retailer “is proud of our longstanding relationship with the hospital and we are pleased to help secure its bright future.”

But at the campaign headquarters, Golin said they’ll keep on agitating, until the hospital reverses its decision.

“Parents are fed up with the audacity of corporations targeting their children, everywhere and anywhere, with products that are bad for them,” he said.

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