Abercrombie & Fitch Tells Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino – STOP WEARING OUR CLOTHES

With their quick rise to fame, the cast of MTV reality show “Jersey Shore” has cashed in on a number of endorsement deals, including weight loss supplements, alcohol and bronzer.

But here’s a first. Teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is offering to pay Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino not to wear its merchandise.

The New Albany, Ohio company released a statement Tuesday evening titled “A Win-Win Situation,” in which it stated a “deep concern” over the association between Mr. Sorrentino and the brand. A&F offered up a “substantial payment” to Mr. Sorrentino “to wear an alternate brand.”

“We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans,” the statement read.

The company also extended the pay-to-not-play offer to the other Jersey Shore reality stars and said it was “urgently waiting a response.”

About 45 minutes into the A&F quarterly earnings call Wednesday morning, after Wall Street analysts peppered executives with endless questions about inventory and gross margins, A&F Chief Executive Mike Jeffries chuckled. “Is no one going to ask about the Situation?” he said.

A few minutes later, a questioner acquiesced and asked for the back story on the situation, as it were. Last Friday, an employee approached Mr. Jeffries with what he called “terrible, terrible news” that Mr. Sorrentino had been wearing A&F product on the episode that aired the night before. “We all said, ‘Oh, that’s terrible’,” Mr. Jeffries recalled with a  groan. “What are we going to do about it?”

The solution the group came up with was to pay the reality star not to wear the product, Mr. Jeffries said, adding, “We’re having a lot of fun with it.”

Mr. Sorrentino, one of the most popular characters on the show, is known for lifting up his shirt off to reveal his abdomen muscles, more often flashing the logo on the waistband of his underwear.

As retail analysts at Nomura Securities pointed out in a research note Tuesday evening, Mr. Sorrentino was seen in the most recent episode of “Jersey Shore” wearing a pair of neon green A&F sweatpants “loudly (and proudly)” on the streets of Florence.

Last year, Mr. Sorrentino gave an interview to New York magazine where he said, “Abercrombie & Fitch, their most popular shirt, they told me, is ‘Fitchuation.’ I mean, where did they get that from? Obviously from myself.”

A&F confirmed that it sold that shirt as part of its “humor graphic tee assortment.”

“Jersey Shore” cast members quickly became controversial household names when the first season launched in late 2009, featuring endless nights of partying and frequent fighting. The cast–and the cameras that follow them–have been welcomed into some nightclubs and restaurants and banned from others. Before shooting began on its current season, set in Florence, Italy, the city’s mayor released a list of rules, including no public consumption of alcohol.

A&F is no stranger to controversy, with its racy marketing campaigns featuring nearly naked models. It has also settled several suits in the last decade, including allegations of discrimination against Asian, African-American and female employees.

A&F declined further comment ahead of its quarterly earnings report Wednesday morning. MTV did not respond to a request for comment.