Mame Adjei

Wet Seal’s ongoing effort to re-brand in a challenging retail market is moving forward with a new face and a positive message.

Mamé Adjei is fronting a new ad campaign that launches Thursday with a rallying cry to the retailer’s customers to define pretty. Incorporating the hashtag #IDefinePretty, the Irvine, Calif.-based company is engaging young women in a primarily digital campaign that allows them to voice their thoughts throughout the month.

“This customer tells us she loves this idea of positivity,” said Angelo D’Agostino, Wet Seal’s vice president of marketing. “It’s something that differentiates us from the market.”

For a 24-year-old, Adjei’s résumé is already padded with positions as Miss Maryland USA 2015, a top five finish in the Miss USA pageant, a runner-up on “America’s Next Top Model” and an activist encouraging youth empowerment. Wet Seal plans to photograph her for the new campaign in southern California on Thursday.

This is the third large-scale campaign under the direction of D’Agostino, who joined Wet Seal last November. Other participants who he has hired for the new promotion include bloggers and Instagram influencers. Supporting the vision projected by Wet Seal chief executive officer Melanie Cox, he said the aim is to create “a brand that has its core DNA in southern California and a casual lifestyle.” After grappling with what he dubbed “a crisis of identity,” the company premiered a campaign titled “Believe” last year. What they learned, he said, was that “the girls want to give back. It’s a lot more than cute clothes. They want to talk about what is important.”

In the new campaign, customers can enter a contest to win a spot in the holiday marketing initiative along with a chance to design a T-shirt for charity. An adaptation of Wet Seal’s model contests, which D’Agostino and Cox didn’t subscribe to because he dismissed them as “popularity contests,” the new competition allows young women to post a video, artwork or anything to “go above and beyond it,” he said. “It’s sort of a feel-good 360-degree campaign.”