American Eagle Outfitters Inc. wants to do more than simply sell clothes, and has determined that one way to do so is by producing original entertainment content. American Eagle's new platform, 77Entertainment, is designed to deliver programming to ae.com, Web sites such as YouTube, MySpace and FaceBook, AE stores and television.
The content will include music, comedies, reality programming and dramas. The new unit plans to add user-generated content featuring promising new bands and solo musicians.
The first project, "It's a Mall World," a 12-episode series, was directed by Milo Ventimiglia of NBC's "Heroes."
"Creating and delivering relevant content is another way for American Eagle to maintain a lasting connection with its customers, as well as promote discovery by introducing them to new artists," said Kathy Savitt, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of American Eagle.
"It's a Mall World" was produced by Russ Cundiff, co-founder of production company Divide Pictures, and written by award-winning writer and director Adam Green ("Hatchet"). The cast is made up of up-and-coming actors from shows such as "Veronica Mars," "CSI: NY," "Shark" and "Law & Order."
The episodes don't reference American Eagle products explicitly, but several of the characters wear the brand's clothes, blurring the line between promotion and entertainment.
This is not American Eagle's first brush with Hollywood. Last fall, to promote its subbrand, aerie, the company teamed up with the CW network to air 30-second shows-within-a-show during "Veronica Mars" and "Gilmore Girls." American Eagle last year also created the aerie music series to identify emerging and independent musicians.
Like the company's previous entertainment efforts, a key part of the strategy is to drive traffic to the AE Web site, where executives hope consumers linger long enough to make a purchase.
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