#AerieREAL more than just good marketing

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Aerie was the place I bought my first bra, as it was for a lot of my fellow undergarment-wearing ladies. The store was and still is inviting to women of all sizes, especially today with their on-going #AerieREAL campaign. 

In 2014, the lingerie company vowed to stop casting supermodels and airbrushing women in their ads. This meant showcasing less of the tall, lean and leggy crop and introducing a greater cohort of unretouched models with bums, hips and chests of all sizes.


REAL is YOU, @jacklyntherrien! #AerieREAL

A photo posted by aerie (@aerie) on Feb 4, 2016 at 4:07pm PST

Two years later, Aerie’s global brand president Jennifer Foyle describes their #AerieREAL initiative as something that “started as a marketing campaign and has grown into a movement.” 

Looking at the numbers alone, their success is clear. In the year the #AerieREAL campaign was introduced, Aerie saw quarterly sales go up by 9 per cent. Its most recent quarterly report, released at the end of 2015, reported an even greater climb at 21 per cent. 

But there’s a much greater picture than financial statements. Of course, businesses want to make a profit — as a commerce student, I can tell you that much. But consumers aren’t spending their money deluded. Behind all the sales is an important conversation.

Seeing as their target market is between the ages of 15 and 22 years old, the people that their brand is speaking to are primarily young women. 

Amongst people in that group, body image has never been a hotter topic. 

Yet when Victoria’s Secret released their similarly natured Love My Body campaign in 2010, it wasn’t met with nearly the same response. Victoria’s Secret decorated their message with the same, oiled-up VS angels they always have — and they were shut down.  

Aerie’s contrasting success has hinged on their ability to show authenticity. As such a large company, their mass marketing can speak far and loud, but it’s not enough to preach self-love and then be done with it. 

Bombard us with glossy, strategized marketing all you want — it’s not going to work unless we listen.

Aerie recently revealed their newest campaign model, 19-year-old Barbie Ferreira. Ferreira, a former American Apparel model, has been vocal about her disdain for what the media deems a “normal” body. Although she garnered a following on Twitter and Instagram prior to the new modelling gig, she’s been thrust into a whole new kind of spotlight. 

Upon Aerie’s announcement that she would star in their new installment of ads, Time, Cosmopolitan and Elle Magazine all posted articles about her. Meanwhile, “Real Talk with Barbie,” the 30-second teaser that Aerie released on YouTube, has already gained almost 1.4 million views.

This is a signal of a sentiment that extends far beyond just doing business. This is hundreds of thousands of young ears ringing.

It’s so important to be kind to yourself. It’s also important that those who have the power to tell us otherwise make a conscious decision to rewrite that media standard. 

Aerie may be making millions, but it’s not for no good reason. They’re supporting us, and we’re supporting them right back.

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