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    American Eagle tunes into TikTok’s SoundOn for back-to-school campaign

    • American Eagle detailed a back-to-school campaign that includes metaverse activations and the first brand application of TikTok’s SoundOn feature, per a press release
    • The seasonal effort centers on music through partnerships with three emerging Gen Z acts. The retailer also enlisted an artist from SoundOn for a custom song, which serves as the campaign’s anthem and part of a TikTok hashtag challenge.  
    • On the metaverse front, American Eagle produced a virtual reality (VR) experience for Meta Quest 2 that will go live in eight store locations on Aug. 20. The retailer additionally is putting on an interactive Roblox performance with one of its music partners on Aug. 19 as it seeks to bridge digital and experiential tactics. 

    American Eagle is experimenting on a number of nascent digital channels to add flair to its back-to-school marketing this year. Thematically, the campaign focuses on the cultural power of music through tie-ups with Gen Z musicians Blu DeTiger, spill tab and the duo Tabakian x Tanisako, as well as a first-of-its-kind use of TikTok’s SoundOn feature. 

    TikTok remains a top channel for the youth-oriented retailer, as apparel trends on the video-sharing app have previously boosted sales and widened the brand’s reach among its target demographic. SoundOn, a music marketing and distribution service TikTok debuted in March, helps artists upload their music and start earning royalties from TikTok and over 90 other platforms.

    American Eagle leveraged SoundOn to link with musician and influencer Katherine Li, who’s tweaked one of her songs, “Happening Again,” to serve as the back-to-school anthem. Li and five other TikTok creators are promoting the tune as part of a branded hashtag challenge that goes live Aug. 23 and asks users to shoot a video showing off their American Eagle jeans. Three winners will be awarded gift cards valued at $3,000 and see their submissions shared on a Times Square billboard after the contest wraps on Aug. 25. 

    Along with TikTok, American Eagle continues to bet on the metaverse. The company shot behind-the-scenes footage specifically for VR that lives as an in-store experience in select locations and can be viewed through YouTube and Facebook’s 360-degree video portals online. Virtual concerts in games like Fortnite and Roblox have also proved to be a sticky idea from the pandemic, with American Eagle trying to capture some of their popularity. 

    The brand designed a custom indie pop-themed stage on Roblox where Blu DeTiger will play her song “Vintage” for fans. The activation includes the first use of a “like” module in Roblox that allows players to interact with the performance. American Eagle at the same time is hosting a back-to-school scavenger hunt and events at two DJ booths that have their own merchandise stands. 

    American Eagle first tried out Roblox, one of the leading metaverse destinations, for its “Members Always” spring campaign. The retailer teamed with Livetopia, an existing roleplaying game that ranks among Roblox’s most popular, to create an inclusive club that people could explore using their digital avatars.  

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