Back-to-school marketing is one of the best times of the year for brands, but the Coronavirus pandemic has left many unsure about preparing for an actual return to school. Nonetheless, both American Eagle and Hollister are rolling out new campaigns to remind fans that they are open, even if schools are not.
American Eagle and Hollister have enlisted popular TikTok talent, including Charli and Dixie D’Amelio and Addison Rae, for a new campaign ushering in the school year. Both brands are collaborating with the content creators to spotlight their denim lines, with American Eagle creating a homemade commercial shot to look like a TikTok video for its #AExME campaign and Hollister creating a dance challenge on TikTok called the #MoreHappyDenimDance. For Hollister’s TikTok campaign, users can post their own videos completing the dance challenge for a chance to win a meet-and-greet with the D’Amelio sisters. The brand also enlisted unexpected TikTok star Bill Nye, whose science experiment videos have gained him a strong following with the app’s young users. While American Eagle is not running a specific TikTok campaign, its new #AExME push replicates the look and feel of dance videos on the app.
TikTok’s popularity has increased tenfold since the Coronavirus pandemic began, so it makes sense that retail brands would note its large following when designing upcoming marketing strategies to target young back-to-school shoppers. Still, back-to-school advertising has decreased by 50% since the confusion surrounding reopenings. As such, tapping into the app where would-be students are spending more time could help back-to-school brands stay top of mind while many of their stores remain shuttered. Though American Eagle is not explicitly advertising on TikTok, using top-tier talent (Addison Rae alone has 50 million TikTok followers) allows it to renew its position as a trendy, youth-focused label. Hollister has a history of pairing up with mega-influencers according to a Gartner report, but its newest campaign marks its first time trying out TikTok influencers. Both Hollister and American Eagle are advertising on additional social media channels, including Instagram and Twitter, which could help further the reach of each retail campaign.
Leveraging TikTok’s viral success could help retail brands who have been hit hard during the pandemic boost sales with young consumers while connecting with them in a space they prefer. While back-to-school marketing remains a tough subject for brands, using social media to engage with students could help both American Eagle and Hollister earn top marks.