- American Eagle's Aerie announced in a press release that it is expanding its #AerieREAL Role Model team for the spring 2019 season. The #AerieReal program launched in 2014 and works with diverse, body-positive partners who appear in unaltered marketing materials. The Role Models portion of the platform rolled out last year.
- The latest additions to the Role Models team include best-selling author and late night talk show host Busy Philipps; actress, activist and LGBTQ advocate Samira Wiley; actor, writer and activist Jameela Jamil; gold medal-winning para-snowboarder Brenna Huckaby; and YouTube creator Molly Burke, who is blind. They join current Role Models Iskra Lawrence, Aly Raisman, Cleo Wade and Jenna Kutcher.
- The Role Models will share their stories and raise awareness for the cultural issues most important to them by appearing in unretouched Aerie images and videos in stores, online and social media. The campaign specifically focuses on conversations around body confidence and social causes.
Aerie has made body positivity and inclusivity a core piece of its messaging strategy, and its latest class of #AerieREAL Role Models furthers the brand's commitments to promoting women's empowerment. The approach appears to be paying off in an otherwise tough retail environment. Aerie has seriously boosted American Eagle's performance, quickly expanding its own store footprint and reporting soaring comp sales in its parent company's most recent quarterly earnings.
The brand has potentially benefited by pushing for unaltered images of its models earlier than rivals. Recently, CVS debuted its own watermark for tagging unretouched photos, and other marketers, spanning from Unilever to Maybelline, have pledged to be more transparent with their beauty marketing. These efforts around body positivity might resonate with younger audiences, who look for authenticity from their favorite brands and expect them to support their identities.
Aerie is also trying to more frequently meet its target audiences where they're spending their time. It has embraced a YouTube-specific video strategy that mimics user- or influencer-generated content, like short tutorials, fit guides and filming in front of simple backdrops. Body-positive influencer Iskra's travel diaries, workout tutorials and clothing guides drove 57% of Aerie's views on YouTube in 2017, according to Gartner L2 research.
Similar to Aerie effort, sister brand American Eagle unveiled its new spring campaign last week, which features a cast of real Gen Zers who were discovered on social media. The brand also tasked the cast with photographing, styling and creatively directing the campaign, with each individual shooting themselves in a series of self-portraits using iPhones and disposable film cameras.