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Reality-style TV ads to help AE land aerie

| Friday, Sept. 15, 2006

Start with two cutting-edge TV dramas that appeal to young viewers. Blend in a new line of intimates and dormwear from American Eagle Outfitters, and the result is a unique partnership between a network and a nationwide retailer.

Marshall-based American Eagle said Thursday that its new aerie women's clothing line will be featured in reality-style TV spots that will air between 8 and 10 p.m. Tuesday nights starting Oct. 3 on the CW network.

Six real-life aerie customers will be shown in stores, wearing the clothes and talking about that week's episode of "Veronica Mars" as well as their own lives, for example. Another six will appear in similar commercials during the "Gilmore Girls" show.

Aerie - which means "eagle's nest" - is a consumer-driven brand of undergarments, shirts, boxer shorts and other items designed to reflect the "sweetly sexy, personal side of our girl," said Kathy Savitt, chief marketing officer for American Eagle, which operates 818 stores nationwide and in Puerto Rico.

Customers will be able to see exclusive "aerie Tuesdays on the CW" content at www.aerie.com and at stores. They also can win shopping sprees, and even a cameo appearance on one of the shows, by entering weekly trivia contests.

Cast members of the two shows will make surprise visits to American Eagle stores nationwide to sign autographs, and the shows also will be featured in shopping bag stuffers and e-mails to customers.

The first dozen aerie girls on the commercials, Savitt said, were chosen through a casting call in Los Angeles. Customers enrolled in a loyalty program, the AE All-Access Pass, were invited to try out, she said.

As the program expands, customers from other areas could be featured in future spots, she said. American Eagle's clothing is marketed to women and men, ages 15 to 25.

The aerie "show within a show" campaign runs through Dec. 5, Savitt said.

"The reality show business is a pretty good way for retailers to sell more merchandise and make a better connection with their customers," said George Whalin of Retail Management Consultants in San Marcos, Calif.

"American Eagle Outfitters is a natural for that," he said, and consumers are sure to see more such campaigns in the future.

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