Virginia Beach Police Crack Down On Abercrombie Ads

So is this photo obscene? Virginia Beach police think so.

Police, saying they were responding to citizen complaints, carted away two large promotional photographs from the Abercrombie & Fitch store in Lynnhaven Mall on Saturday and cited the manager on obscenity charges.
Adam Bernstein, a police spokesman, said the seizure and the issuance of the summons came only after store management had not heeded warnings to remove the images.
The citation was issued under City Code Section 22.31, Bernstein said, which makes it a crime to display “obscene materials in a business that is open to juveniles.” He did not say what was being done with the pictures and when the manager, whose name was not released, is scheduled to appear in court.

Obscenity laws are different in every community. So does a national brand like Abercrombie have an obligation to conform to local standards?
UPDATE 2/5/08: The charges have been dropped.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. I work for A&F and I think that all these boycotts and all this press is just parents pointing the finger to blame their childrens bad decsions on us. You wanna know where your kids learn about sex and how to cuss and where to promote violence??? Their schools. Blame the schools, not A&F. Ooo a man without a shirt! Never seen that at a beach before. OMG! A buttcrack…Im gonna go have sex now because supposably thats what our ads suggest. If you have a brain and morals, then you know that you should just look at the pictures as art and let it be. If you dont want your kids to see a guys crack, then take them to a different store. A&F is for 17 year olds and older. Ages where you are old enough to decide for yourself, where you wanna shop and what you wanna do. I will continue to shop with A&F as will all my friends. There is so much more going on in this world to ponder besides an “indecent” ad. Start focusing on edcuation and politics and the war in Iraq, etc. Besides…the state flag of Viginia has a woman’s breast exposed….is this not shown in your childs school?? Hmmm….

  2. I’d say that it’s nearly impossible for any corporation to create ads that conform to wide-ranging community standards across the country.
    Through their ads, A&F is clearly branding themselves as a company for the young and sexy, and it’s worked for them. Looking at an ad (I’m guessing for jeans) with some hunky guy’s crack sticking out doesn’t make me want to buy a particular brand of denim. But then, being 40 and more than a bit overweight, I’m not their target audience either.

  3. To find this obscene, you kind of have to visualize what the boys were going to do next. (My guess-skinny dipping.) I have no doubt plenty of closeted homophobes in Virginia Beach were spanking off to those thoughts, and then feeling dirty.

  4. This is not surprising for a town like Virginia Beach; keep in mind the Pat Robertson empire is centered in Virginia Beach. I have visited the area a few times, and have always been aware of a heavy, intimidating, and seemingly overbearing police presence in the city. It really feels like a police state, so much that I don’t want to go back to Virginia Beach.
    In fact, one may be ticketed for using profanity in public…there are “no profanity” signs all over the downtown area. In fact, I was once approached by a policeman and nearly cited for disorderly conduct by stopping and having a group pose for a picture under the “no profanity” sign (I’ve never had so much as a traffic ticket in my life)!

  5. Va Bch is out of control. They need to get a grip. I refuse to go to the beach because you are banned from almost everything. It is like living in Siberia. It is your choice and mine to shop at Abercrombie. Besides you have probably seen more butt-crack from the overweight repairman fixing your washer. Go after the real criminals PLEASE!!!!!!!!

  6. Having spent lots of time on the sand in Va Beach, I have to wonder if the police are going to be hauling away tourists whose beach attire is CONSIDERABLY more risque than those ads at A&F.
    It is interesting that the store at MacArthur Mall (in Norfolk) has the same advertisements, and the Victoria’s Secret store next to it has displays which give rise to thoughts of springtime — yet nobody is complaining.

  7. Dane Fresh says:

    Virginia Beach Police – What a bunch of turds.
    I think their police department is obscene.
    Will they arrest themselves to protect us?
    Europeans must love this kind of stuff
    from the American Pilgrims.

  8. This is all i got to say about jeans or khakis falling off your butt. Try being size 30 X 34 and finding a pair of jeans that fit you on a budget.
    I just looked at A&F website and their pair of 79.95 jeans come in 32X34, no 31 or 30.

  9. Yea, all of you who talk shit about VB are losers who have no idea about living there. Im Live in VB born and raised, and no, your an idiot, its not the center of the pat robertson clan douche bag. Abercrombie fucking sucks anyway, they are closing down in lynnhaven mall soon because alot of people wear way more surf brands so the true surf shops(Not shitty Hollister) get awsome business. you talk shit about VB because you dont know what its like to live there. Your a bunch of retards

  10. hey bryan.
    spoken like a true lameass who has no clue. have you ever left VB? im guessing not. im also guessing you will probably live there forever and work some lame blue collar job and talk about how great things were when you used to surf all day. Abercrombie didnt close bc more ppl wear “true surf brands” and good luck going into Hollister and not finding a line out the door. You stupid beach kids think your so bad ass. Between the socially awkward navy guys who hit on every girl that walks and the douche bag VB kids with the same stupid shaggy haircut and sideways hat its obvious why VB is so great.

  11. First of all, that eons old Coppertone ad with the puppy pulling on the little girl’s bathing suit shows more more “skin” than this one does!
    Secondly, the ONLY folks who could find this ad “suggestive” are the dirty minded, sexually repressed Christian right pervs who are the antithesis of those the ad is aimed at! You know who I’m referring to – the the ones who have such sick thoughts of their own that they see “filth” everywhere they look! Frankly, if they weren’t so inclined to run off at the mouth reagrading their twisted thoughts on morality, the ads would probably go away – because we “normal” types (and their own kids) wouldn’t get such a kick out of watching them go ballistic!
    And third, am I the only one who noticed that the two guys running with their pants firmly in place seem to be better looking than the guy who is losing his? Maybe Abercrombie was making a statement here that the “super loose” look is no longer the preferred style. You would think that would make the “morality police” happy – unless, of course, they merely rant and rave about pics like these so they have an “excuse” to examine them more closely (as drool spills down their chins)???

  12. Yes I am Gay. Yes I call this filth. No you cannot have it both ways. Cover up your ass unless you are taking a shower or a dump. I have a great body, I exercise and eat right. But who I am is not my body nor my name. I am the spirit that dwells within. Can you take a picture of that, no you cannot. Stop confusing who you are with your body. Then you can feel good for the first time about the skin you are in. My body will be used to express my love for one person, not the entire world.

  13. James D says:

    My big brother is just like these boys. Last week me and him went for a 10 mile walk in the searing heat. I was dressed appropiatley in shorts and a light top. My brother however had his shirt off and he must have forgotten his belt because his jeans kept sliding down his butt. Worse it appears he also fogot his underwear. It must have been annoying for him becuase he had to hike his jeans up every 10 seconds. Halfway through the walk we stopped for something to eat. We ate it while we walked and my brother had his hands full so we kept having to stop so he could pull his jeans up. At some points you could pretty much see all of his butt. He always does this. He and his friends think it’s so cool to walk around with their pants falling off. It’s stupid