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Abercrombie sheds preppy image in favor of outdoorsy one in retailer’s holiday ad

Abercrombie & Fitch is harkening back to its outdoorsy roots in its holiday campaign in an attempt to shed its preppy, too-cool-for-school image.

The once-popular retailer has faced declining sales in recent years in the face of competition from e-commerce sites and fast-fashion chains like Zara. In its latest campaign, Abercrombie is hoping to show its target demographic of 21-24-year-olds that the brand has moved past its sex appeal days and is ready to take on a more mature persona.

Called ‘This is the Time,’ the spot features millennials as they embark on a number of “firsts” in their lives: first apartment, first heartbreak, first job. As they frolic through new cities and go on new adventures - donning Abercrombie’s signature ripped jeans and plaid shirts, of course - a voiceover encourages them to “screw up, date all the wrong people, learn by doing.”

While the spot teeters into millennial advertising trope territory, a phenomenon that's been parodied by the likes of Bud Light and Rebtel, the 125-year-old brand is hoping its “heritage of adventure and exploration” will resonate with young people, especially since the retailer got its start in 1892 by selling sporting goods and apparel to outdoorsmen.

"This is the Time is borne of Abercrombie & Fitch's heritage as an outfitter of adventure, and an appreciation of the significance of this unique stage in our customers' lives, and the adventures they are on," said Stacia Andersen, president of Abercrombie & Fitch, in a statement.

"Over the past year we've learned from conversations and interactions with millions of our customers; we understand how, when and where they want to engage, and what they expect from us as a brand,” added Will Smith, chief marketing officer of Abercrombie & Fitch. "That insight, and an understanding of what made us an iconic American brand, has shaped our campaign; This is the Time speaks to the important journey our customers are on, as well as the one we are on as a brand."

The spot, which marks Abercrombie’s first commercial in more than a decade, will run on channels including E!, Comedy Central, ESPN and Adult Swim. Created by Dallas-based The Richards Group, it will also play in movie theaters, on Snapchat and across other social media channels. The spot was directed by production studio Rodeo Show’s directing duo Him & Her.

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