Teen TV — Starring American Eagle

August 1, 2007

mall.jpgRetail spending might be down overall, but back-to-school market data show teens spending their hard-earned “summer job” money on electronics — and passing on the clothes.

But American Eagle Outfitters is taking the fight for disposable dollars into enemy territory, by launching its latest marketing on the same electronic gadgetry that is tempting teens away from its jeans and tees. 

The campaign’s centerpiece is “It’s a Mall World,” a mini television series of 12 three-minute episodes, but will eventually feature original and user-generated content on television, in stores and on YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.

Premiering Wednesday night on ae.com and during episodes of MTV’s Real World: Sydney, the series revolves around a group of friends who work at the mall, including a pretty American Eagle shopgirl.

By trying to turn itself into entertainment with the cool quotient of MTV, American Eagle aims to establish itself as the ticket to a stylish lifestyle, company spokeswoman Jani Strand said.

“We want to go beyond the clothes and create a relationship,” said Strand, who said the company has never created content on this scale. “(American Eagle) means cool clothes, it means style, but it also means entertainment and creativity.”

If it works, the strategy will infuse American Eagle’s trendy basics with an extra hint of hip, said Needham & Co. analyst Christine Chen. 

“We all like to think we’re cutting-edge, but basically, we’re all comfortable with the basics, ” Chen said. “If they can project an image of coolness and still sell basic clothing,” that’s a winning proposition, because people buy lots of basics.

None of the company’s peers are doing comparable marketing, Chen said.

The monthly numbers will reveal whether the campaign was worth the expense, which American Eagle won’t disclose.

“If they can continue to beat expectations and grow market share, then I would say this is effective,” Chen said.


Heres something you should know before you buy your kids new clothes at American Eagle Outfitters this summer. The company talks about social responsibility and holds events at campuses to raise cash for charities, but when it comes to the people who make their business workthe men and women who pack and ship clothes to Canadian stores at a contractor called NLSAE falls short. Im working with a labor union called Unite Here to let people know about the story behind the label. You can find more information at http://www.AmericanVulture.org.


Cheers to fashionethics!

If AE is going to try to expand in the youth market, they are going to have to deal with a growing student boycott of their stores because of their lack of respect for workers’ rights. A number of student organizations with reach all across Canada and the US are ramping up the campaign to make sure that AE take responsibility for their workers. AE wants to be “cutting edge” and “create relationships.” Well, why don’t they break new ground by creating relationships with their workers that are based on respect and justice?!