Aerie Real: Social Media Game on Point
Aerie the fashion label for women delicates, lingerie and bathing suits under American Eagle has been the largest, most long lasting and most positive social media marketing win that I’ve ever organically come across and was consciously aware of its brilliance.
In 2014 Aerie launched their “Aerie Real” body positivity campaign with the premise that going forward the company pledged never to retouch the bodies and imperfections of their models in their advertisements.
Business Insider reported a 32% increase in sales in the first quarter of 2016 which was a 20% rise in comparable sales for the entire 2015 fiscal year. The campaign continues to flourish and grow today.
Aerie president Jennifer Foyle cited the reasoning for the campaign was the increasing and impressive strength and self-empowerment of millennial girls and women and the body positivity movement.
The campaign has turned into something much larger, notably a movement featuring a diverse cast of models with diverse ethnic backgrounds and body types. These models, now described by the brand as Aerie Real ambassadors, connect with consumers directly at store visits where they often give talks on body positivity and healthy living. During these store visits consumers and fans of the ambassadors are encouraged to take selfies with the ambassadors with the hashtag #AerieREAL. The current face of Aerie Real and their lead ambassador Iskra Lawrence has 3.2 million followers on Instagram and posts multiple times a week with Aerie clothing and hashtags accompanied by body positivity and healthy living tips.
The models have garnered huge fan bases of their own of adoring girls who look up to them as role models. The ambassadors notably all have remarkably wholesome and uplifting social media presences of their own which is no doubt part of the commitment they agree to when they become ambassadors.
I think the movement is a perfect example of excellently executed planned content for a number of reasons.
#1) The timing of the movement came at a time when there was a big push in the market for more plus-sized clothing options for women. While Aerie Real isn’t a plus size clothing label, they benefitted from this growing positivity trend by being early adopters of the body positivity philosophy and the first major clothing label to pledge not to re-touch photos of their models. This tactic of embracing body positivity is especially critical for Aerie as a brand because their target demographic are girls and women in their teens and 20’s.
#2) By choosing their models in a manner that promotes diversity of race and body type and turning their models into being positive role models for young women, as opposed to a perfect body to idealize, their consumers become genuine fans of the models and consequently the associated brand. This relationship, which is accompanied with in person ambassador visits creates a personal and emotional connection between the consumer, the brand and the ambassador.