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Arizona Jeans Gets Social to Reach Teens

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NEW YORK In an effort to reach teens, the Original Arizona Jeans Co. learned a lesson: It's often better to go to them. The brand's first major marketing foray centered on the September debut of its e-commerce site, azjeans.com.

But it quickly found that social media outlets like MySpace, Facebook and instant-messaging services provided the most effective ways of connecting with its 15- to-19-year-old audience.

"Teens are jaded," said Jennifer Dillahunty, account director at Austin, Texas, independent digital agency T3, which led the effort. "They expect you to have music, to have video, to be on Facebook. They know they're being marketed to, but their expectations are high."

The social media campaign includes a Facebook-sponsored group, where visitors can play a Tarot card game, listen to music from pop star Carrie Ott and join a discussion group. With MySpace, Arizona sponsored "The Fit," a MySpace Fashion video series. It also worked with Yahoo! to create an IM skin.

The strategy comes as new research confirms that teens are spending more time in social media environments. According to a Pew Internet and American Life Project study released earlier this week, more than half of teens have a social networking profile.

"Our thought is if you can deliver these distributed experiences, your conversions will go up," said Kata Donaho, group creative director at T3. "There is an ROI by deepening the engagement in other places."

In building AZJeans.com, T3 added several community elements, including downloadable buddy icons, customizable holiday e-cards and a design-your-own jeans pocket application. The site's most successful element has been the denim guide to help visitors pick out the right jeans for them.

"The biggest challenge is to strike the right chord," Donaho said. "It would be very easy to hit a false note. What we've done is relevant but not trying too hard."