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Earlier this year, American Eagle Outfitters took a gamble that turned the heads of not only customers, but other marketers as well. Like many brands pursuing the fickle tastes of Gen Z shoppers, the mall-based apparel retailer had convened focus groups full of teens, eager to hear what they did and didn’t like. And like plenty of other youth brands, American Eagle was careful to cast actual youths in its advertising, too. But then, it took things a decisive step further by taking a gamble: It put the juveniles in charge of the entire marketing campaign—the concept, the clothes, the shoot, the script, everything.
“We turned the whole thing over to the kids,” said global brand president Chad Kessler.