"Are you who you were a year ago?" Aeropostale asks teens in a new video ad. No, it answers. And neither is Aeropostale, it adds. The screen then flashes the words: "Aero Now."
The struggling mall chain rolled out a new logo and back-to-school campaign on Monday under the "Aero Now" tagline, as it works to convince teenagers that it's relevant and cool. Chief Executive Officer Tom Johnson said in May that the campaign was meant to "cast a bright spotlight on all of the changes we've made to our brand, as well as resonate strongly with the teen consumer." After six straight quarters of declining sales, and a 65% stock plunge this year, it's essential for the retailer to get it right.
Most of Aeropostale's marketing has taken place on social media, especially on Twitter, where its bio proclaims: "WE ARE A GENERATION OF NOW." As teens hang out at the mall less, Johnson has said that Aeropostale is trying to counter that trend by "attacking social media in a significant way."
Aeropostale purchased a promoted trend on Twitter yesterday, an exclusive 24-hour buy, along with other Twitter ads, and also advertised its new campaign across Instagram, Vine, YouTube, and Facebook. Still, Twitter was its focus, where the brand responded to both fans and its "haters" in real-time. For example, one user tweeted: "Aeropostale is trying to make a comeback. Key word trying." Aeropostale responded with a gif of Britney Spears saying "Bye." (The user apologized.)
"Because the conversation piece is so heavy on Twitter in a way that doesn't happen on the other platforms, we felt it was a really important place for us to take our message," David Gallon, Aeropostale's director of social media said. The campaign, represented through the hashtag #AeroNow, has gotten "tremendous positive reaction," he said.
Aeropostale is the cheapest offshoot of the "three As," retail industry parlance for a group that also includes American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch. All three chains have come under pressure in the past few years as teens have moved away from preppy, uniform-like styles and towards fast-fashion and surf-and-skate chains. The shift has been the hardest on Aeropostale.
Aeropostale's declaration that it has changed "is a bold statement," according to Gallon.
"I think it's really thought-provoking," he said. "Obviously, the implicit statement we're making is we're not the same as what we were a year ago, but I think it also plays back to a teenager and where they're at in this stage of their lives."
He added: "It was really about owning the moment. I think at the end of the day, if the teen thinks, 'You know what, that was cool. They get it.' That's what this is about. It's about building that relationship with the teen audience and being relevant and speaking their language."