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Image: Mike Sorrentino
Charles Sykes  /  AP
How could he not be seen as a role model? Abercrombie & Fitch says The Situation could "cause significant damage to our image."
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updated 8/17/2011 6:02:10 PM ET 2011-08-17T22:02:10

The Situation doesn't usually require a lot of motivation to lose the shirt. But Abercrombie & Fitch wants him to go one further — the company has offered to pay "Jersey Shore" cast members to stop wearing clothes carrying their brand.

The preppy teen retailer said Tuesday it would pay a "substantial payment" to Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino or any cast member who stops wearing its clothing on the popular MTV reality show because the series is "contrary to the aspirational nature of the brand."

"We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino's association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image," the retailer said in a press release.

It may seem strange that a brand that employs half-naked models to stand outside its flagship stores and courted controversy with racy catalogs has come out with such an aggressive campaign against the hard partying cast of "Jersey Shore."

But the audacious approach is getting the teen retailer tons of publicity during the crucial back-to-school season, the second biggest shopping period of the year. The CEO says it's having fun with the ploy, and marketing experts say the company may wind up laughing all the way to the bank.

"It gets their name further out into the marketplace with one of the hottest brands on TV right now at the peak of the back-to-school season," said Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi. "It's free marketing. Because the approach is so ridiculous, everybody's talking about it."

Brands usually embrace celebrities or performers who adopt their products in an unsolicited, organic way because of all the attention it can drum up. But sometimes they can have an uneasy relationship.

When hip hop stars unofficially adopted luxury champagne Cristal as their drink of choice several years ago, for example, the relationship seemed cozy at first. But after a company executive made derogatory comments about hip hop culture, high profile rappers like Jay-Z boycotted it.

Still, unexpected adaptation can be beneficial. When an urban audience adopted ultra-preppy Tommy Hilfiger clothes, the brand ended up expanding massively. And now Tommy Hilfiger's son is a rapper.

The cast of "Jersey Shore" don't exactly consist of the kind of role models most brands covet. Now filming its fifth season, the show has won millions of viewers who tune in to watch a group of hard-partying, foul-mouthed 20- and 30-somethings hanging out, hooking up and behaving raucously.

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Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino is one of the most popular, and outrageous, cast members, boasting of a "gym-tan-laundry" routine and lifting his shirt to show off his abs at every opportunity.

Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries said the offer to pay cast members came about when someone alerted him Sorrentino was wearing Abercrombie & Fitch on the show. In an Aug. 11 episode, Sorrentino wears neon green AF-label sweat pants.

Abercrombie has not disclosed the offering price. But Jeffries struck a light tone about the offer.

"We are having a lot of fun with it," he said in a conference call with analysts Wednesday.

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Story: Abercrombie wants 'Situation' out of its clothes

MTV called the move a "clever PR stunt" by Abercrombie. "We'd love to work with them on other ways they can leverage 'Jersey Shore' to reach the largest youth audience on television," the network said Wednesday in a statement.

The news came as Abercrombie, based in New Albany, Ohio, reported strong second-quarter results, fueled by international growth.

Sorrentino did not return requests for comment and there was no word at press time whether anyone in the cast accepted the offer.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: 'The Jersey Shore' gets around

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  1. Friends forever

    MTV's “Snooki & JWOWW” follows "Jersey Shore" BFFs Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Jenni “JWOWW” Farley as they start a new chapter in their lives. Snooki is pregnant and Jenni is getting serious in her romance. (MTV) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Mom to be

    Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi visits the Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show at Z100 Studio on June 20, 2012 in New York. The reality TV star is pregnant with her first child. (D Dipasupil / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Muscle beach

    Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino films scenes for the fifth season of "Jersey Shore" in Seaside Heights, N.J., on June 5, 2012. The reality TV star recently completed an in-patient treatment program for prescription medication addiction. (PacificCoastNews.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Devils made them do it

    Cardboard cut-outs of the cast members of "Jersey Shore" are displayed behind the bench of the New Jersey Devils during a 2012 Stanley Cup Final game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 4. (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Now that's Italian

    The cast of MTV's "Jersey Shore," from left, Sammi "Sweetheart" Gianicola, Deena Nicole Cortese, Ronnie Ortiz Magro, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, Paul "Pauly D" DelVecchio, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, Jenny "JWoww" Farley and Vinny Guadagnino at Hotel Brunelleschi in Florence, Italy, on May 19, 2011. The cast is on location in Florence filming the fourth season. (Elisabetta Villa / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Taking it to the streets

    Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, left, and Nicole "Deena" Cortese walk along Via dei Calzaiuoli in Florence, Italy, on Monday May 23, 2011. (Francesco Bellini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Down the 'Shore'

    The season two cast of "Jersey Shore." The MTV reality show was a surprise hit in 2009, sent its cast to Florida for a second season, then back to Jersey for a third. (MTV) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Wowing them

    Jenni "JWoww" Farley of "Jersey Shore" and boyfriend Roger Matthews visit The Foundation Room in Showboat Atlantic City on Saturday March 26, 2011 in Atlantic City N.J. (Tom Briglia / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. I've got your back

    Sammi Giancola and Ronnie Ortiz-Magro struck up a relationship in the third episode of the show's first season. (MTV) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Snooki as author

    Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, perhaps the most famous member of the cast, released a novel, "A Shore Thing," in 2011. Despite being heavily promoted with numerous appearances by Polizzi on national television, it reportedly did not sell well. But Snooki had the last laugh on literature: She reportedly earned $32,000 to speak at Rutgers University, $2,000 more than the school paid Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison. (Bobby Bank / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Happy Valentine's Day...

    Ronnie Ortiz-Magro is arraigned before Superior Court Judge Stephanie Wauters on Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, in Toms River, N.J. Ortiz-Magro pled not guilty to an aggravated assault charge. (Tim Mccarthy / The Asbury Park Press via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Treat your feet

    Polizzi promotes her Snooki Slippers line at the MAGIC clothing industry convention at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011 in Las Vegas. She says the leopard-print ones are her favorites. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Jersey style

    Cast member Vinny Guadagnino and fashion designer Richie Rich attend Guadagnino's IHAV clothing line launch party at Greenhouse on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011 in New York. (Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Which one's Goofy?

    Paul "Pauly D" Delvecchio poses with Goofy in the Magic Kingdom on Friday, Oct. 22, 2010 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Delvecchio was at the theme park to announce his involvement as a DJ for "Disney Grad Nite 2011," a private, after-hours party at the Magic Kingdom in April and May 2011 for high school seniors from across the country. (Handout / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Life's a beach

    The second-season cast soaked up the sun down in Miami, Florida. (MTV via AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Not-so-fancy footwork

    Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino participated in season 11 of "Dancing With the Stars." He was paired with pro partner Karina Smirnoff, but was eliminated after four weeks of competition. (Adam Larkey / ABC via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Rising stock

    Mike "The Situation Sorrentino," Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola, Pauly Delvecchio, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, Vinny Guadagnino and Jenni "JWoww" Farley participated in the opening bell ceremonies of the New York Stock Exchange on July 27, 2010 (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Out for a 'Late Show'

    Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and her signature "poof" hairstyle appeared as a guest on "The Late Show With David Letterman" on Sept. 21, 2010, where she later shared a fist pump with the host. (John Paul Filo / CBS via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A stand-up routine

    The cast appeared at the Television Critics Association on Aug. 6, 2010 in Beverly Hills, Calif. to promote the second season of their MTV hit. The gang remained on their feet throughout the entire presentation because, as MTV President of Programming Tony DiSanto explained, the girls were wearing short skirts and he feared wardrobe malfunctions. (Mark Davis / PictureGroup via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Admirable body of work

    Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino is perhaps most famous for his abs, which he likes to show off every chance he gets. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Hot-tub hijinks

    The MTV Video Music Awards poked fun at the hit show on Sept. 12, 2010 when it had host Chelsea Handler joining the "Shore" gang in one of their favorite spots for hookups -- a hot tub -- and emerging very pregnant. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Big trouble for little Snooki

    "Jersey Shore" star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi landed herself in big trouble in late July 2010 while partying in Seaside Heights, N.J. She was arrested for disorderly conduct and creating a public nuisance, and was later sentenced to complete two days of community service. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Get in the ring

    Jenni "JWOWW" Farley, left, appeared on Spike TV's "TNA Impact" wrestling program on Oct. 11, 2010, where she faced off against a Snooki lookalike. The "Jersey Shore" star earned a reported $15,000 for her appearance. (Gerardo Mora / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. MTV's darlings

    The Situation, DJ Pauly D, Snooki and JWOWW -- "Jersey Shore's" biggest stars -- all made an appearance at the MTV Movie Awards on Sept. 12, 2010 in Los Angeles. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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