- American Eagle unveiled its new spring campaign, which was photographed, styled and creatively directed by 10 Gen Z cast members, according to a news release.
- The cast members were discovered through social media and will be shown in their own environments rather than highly produced locations or sets. Each individual photographed themselves in a series of self-portraits using iPhones and disposable and film cameras.
- The campaign will run across American Eagle's social media, Google Preferred videos and in-store imagery, and cast members will share their individual stories and personal experiences online and on social media.
American Eagle (AE) is continuing its push to make authentic, emotional connections with its Gen Z consumer base. The brand has featured "real customers" in past marketing, but casting individuals sourced from social media and turning the creative over to the cast members could allow AE to showcase the individuality of its style and promote diversity, empowerment and inclusion. Social media is a valuable platform for self-expression for digitally native Gen Z consumers, and AE appears to be hoping its messaging will resonate and drive sales, as digital has been a key area for the fashion brand.
The campaign is an extension of the brand's #AExME initiative, which was a pledge to forgo using models in its marketing and feature only real customers styling themselves. These efforts tend to appeal to Gen Zers, who expect their favorite brands to be more socially conscious, depict more images of diversity and support their own identities and personal values.
Under #AExME, AE's fall 2018 campaign for its Ne(X)t Level Jeans featured actual customers and a store associate, who were photographed in environments reflecting music and creativity. The cast members also shared their unique stories and styles for back-to-school season. The campaign included a one-minute video showing real customers of diverse backgrounds, genders and sizes going about their days in the jeans. AE also partnered with Universal Music Group and Brands to identify emerging musicians for a digital content series.
American Eagle Outfitters, the parent company of AE, has seen success by focusing on authenticity in marketing. Similar to AE's upcoming spring campaign, the company's lifestyle and apparel brand Aerie has created branded videos tailored to YouTube that mimic user- or influencer-generated content in formats like short tutorials, fit guides or shooting in front of simple fabric backdrops. Aerie has also been successful in partnering with influencers on YouTube, like body-positive Iskra, whose videos drove 57% of the brand's views on the platform in 2017, according to Gartner L2.