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Life's A Fitch: A Lesson in the Birds and the Bees

Today, it is man against nature.

Nest_openerThis week, robins followed the number one rule of real estate (Location! Location! Location!) and believed the top of my garage door opener would be the optimal spot to go condo. The problem with their logic is I like my garage door opener in working order, and I do not want bird poop on my cars IN the garage. Hence, I shut the garage door when they were gone, checked to ensure no eggs had been laid, and promptly dismantled their home renovation project. And they came back. And I dismantled. And they came back. And I dismantled. They don't seem to be getting the fact I don't want them.

Concurrently, bees have been making a home near my daughters' swingset in the back yard. Now I'm well aware of the bee crisis, but with a swingset out of commission, my kids might do the unthinkable: stay indoors and bury their heads in electronic devices. Against my ecological best judgment, I went to Home Depot to purchase spray to evict the bees. The clerk seemed aghast I would consider doing such a thing. She suggested I contact a bee keeper to find the hive and eradicate the bees naturally.

"Do you have the name of a local bee keeper?" I asked.

"Well, no," was her response.

"If I give you my address, will you do the phone research and call around and find one and get them there tomorrow?" I countered.

"I can't do that, sir."

"I'll take the spray."

She shrugged as I grabbed two cans and skulked off toward the cash register.

To top off my week, I've been appalled by Abercrombie & Fitch's CEO Michael Jeffies' comments about marketing to skinny people only. As the father of two growing young women, I go out of my way to impress upon them that their identity is not about body image, and that beauty is more on the inside than the outside.

But then I started connecting the dots. Michael and I are both guilty of excluding a group who want to be part of our "club." The difference is, the birds and the bees operate under instinct; humans operate with feelings and emotions. And the birds and the bees don't have money to spend on rent; people have money to spend on clothing.

There will always be "target markets" in business. Conversely, there will always be "undesirable customers." We'll never be rid of the difficult client whose calls go unanswered and whose emails sit dormant because we just don't have the energy to deal with them. (Don't gasp; you know you do it, too.) The taboo "birds and bees" of business marketing is you NEVER specifically call out those you are excluding. In project management, we list our stakeholders, but we never say, "Oh, yeah, we're NOT doing this project for those bean counters and pencil pushers in Accounting." Your accomplishments will always get further in the positive. If your business is going to "reproduce," ignoring the birds and the bees will be a huge mistake. Acknowledge them. Deal with them. Give them alternatives. But (and I say this with experience of one who has now been chased by both birds and bees in one week) don't piss them off. I'm grateful Mother Nature doesn't have a Twitter account.

One solution would have been to pump that hideously toxic Abercrombie & Fitch "fragrance" all over the garage and the swingset, thereby killing the entire environment for a 50-mile radius.

Alas...

The robins have now found an alternative spot on my property for their nest. They can stay there. And I'll probably call around for bee keepers next week, even though I don't have time. After all, I'd like to think I'm at least one step ahead of Michael Jeffries.

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Comments

Jeff Pitts

Great post! It made me jealous I didn't write it. You had me laughing all the way through.

Sarah

Had a couple of good laughs here!

Abercrombie & Fitch: I didn't bother to even bring it up, because as far as I'm concerned, he did so much damage by opening his trap, that alone would be enough to sink his ship.... And it has, I think. As a CEO, I'm sure things like that as said ALL the time in the board room. Let's be honest: Big business is cruel. But what kills me is that he said it OUTSIDE of that protected space and has now lost ALL credibility in lieu of it. That is what business is about after all... Trust in a product, in a company. Credibility. Integrity. How does this guy still have a job? He certainly has none of those qualities any longer...

Sarah

Jeff Pitts

I've been living with my head in the sand for awhile. I haven't even heard anything about this controversy. (That's a disclaimer for; this might be stupid but...)

Any chance this was a calculated move? If skinny teens are his target customer, I don't see how this hurts him. In fact, it might even garner support amongst his target. Now, wearing Abercrombie is a badge of "skinny and too cool to care," even if it also makes you heartless.

If memory serves, being heartless never hurt anyone's social stigma in my high school, it might even raise it a notch. .

Just to be clear, I'm not saying this is right, or that it will work, just wondering if that could have been the calculation, if there was one.

Timothy Johnson

Good point, Jeff. There is a chance this is just a publicity stunt to "shore up" their target market. But given the other things I've read about the CEO, he's just a much older version of Justin Bieber.

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