American Eagle learns new tricks with doggie clothing line

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The Twitter-sphere started yipping on Monday, after American Eagle Outfitters put out an official press release announcing “American Beagle Outfitters, The Brand’s First-Ever Clothing Line For Man’s Best Friend.”

“You & your pup can be preppy twinsies,” tweeted Heather J. McCloskey.

“AE has a new line for dogs called American Beagle Outfitters?? This can’t be real life,” offered Crystal Sivert.

“Someone please tell me this is a joke,” deadpanned Lacey Lansdale in her tweet.

A company spokeswoman for the South Side teen clothing retailer declined to give the reassurance that Ms. Lansdale sought, adding that no one would be available to talk for a couple of days. But then it takes time to let a viral reaction develop -- and to get a little closer to April Fool's Day.

Last year, about this time, American Eagle pranked its fans with the introduction of a new “skinny skinny jean” that was really just models who had their legs painted. Within a couple of days, the company’s YouTube video for the promotion had picked up more than 360,000 views.

By Monday afternoon, a “dogumentary” posted to promote the new American Beagle line had been seen more than 3,000 times on YouTube.

The behind-the-scenes video — which shows dogs playing and posing at American Eagle headquarters with the Monongahela River seen out the window — explains the tragedy in the choices of clothing styles now offered for canines at the mall and aims for the big time: “I think American Beagle is going to be huge. I see Milan. I see Paris,” says one woman.

Commentors on YouTube were almost unanimous in seeing the campaign as a joke, which doesn't mean they wouldn't take advantage of the company’s offer to, “Take 20 percent off your purchase of three items or more and help us donate up to $100,000 to ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).” One dollar from each order would go to the nonprofit.

Having a little fun can be good marketing for brands like American Eagle that want to connect with a young, social-media-savvy audience.

In this case, the nonprofit that will benefit from the concept has already shown a willingness to turn the Internet’s love of goofy animals into a fundraising tool. The ASPCA in February posted a video “press conference” featuring online feline celebrity Lil Bub calling for contributions to help cats that need special care.

Offbeat marketing can also have another benefit. South Side mobile commerce platform company Branding Brand recently posted a video of its staff dancing to the tune, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. The video has turned into a good recruiting tool, according to the company.

Teresa F. Lindeman: or at 412-263-2018.

First Published March 24, 2014 10:12 PM

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