American Eagle Outfitters Hires a New Agency

Translation succeeds Arnold as creative lead

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American Eagle Outfitters has shifted its creative business to Translation. 

The New York agency will lead creative development for the AEO brand in the US and Canada, with a particular focus on the company’s denim line for the back to school season, according to chief marketing officer Michael Leedy, who explained that the retailer hired Translation "for its ability to connect established brands with youth culture."

Beyond traditional ads, the agency will create digital, social and mobile marketing. The retailer typically spends around $20 million in media annually, though last year the figure dipped below $8 million, according to Kantar Media.

"Translation’s role will be to deliver creative that surpasses previous standards, re-engaging the target AEO consumer and making a powerful statement in an increasingly competitive retail marketplace," said Steve Stoute, founder and CEO of Translation.

The new lead agency succeeds Arnold in Boston, which American Eagle hired in 2012 after a global review. In the same review, MediaCom landed media responsibilities. MediaCom's assignment is unaffected by the creative shift.

The 2012 search followed the arrival of Robert Hanson, a former top executive at Levi's, as the retailer's CEO. Hanson allegedly clashed with the company's top brass and was ousted in January. Jay Schottenstein currently serves as interim CEO. 

With Arnold's appointment, American Eagle hoped to regain its foothold in the teenage market but didn't get what it needed and sought other options, according to a source. Arnold, however, continues to work with American Eagle on digital projects, according to an agency representative.

Sources said that this time around, the retailer's executives met with a few agencies, including Deutsch—a finalist in the last review—before hiring Translation.

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.