The Genius of American Apparel

When you think of American Apparel, you think of their (caution, NSFW) risqué campaigns and Helvetica font.


Aside from the occasional controversial photo shoot, American Apparel has been successful in harnessing the power of social media in their marketing and PR strategy. With the rise of active social media users and citizen journalists, the internet has become a marketplace for brands to scout for new potential customers and opportunities.

Brands need to constantly be uploading innovative and creative content to stay relevant and competitive in a market where consumer attention darts from post to post. American Apparel utilises popular platforms of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr to ensure a constant flow of new content is presented to its publics.

A public typically left alone by many PR practitioners and marketers, particularly in the mainstream fashion industry, is that of the LGBTQI community. American Apparel successfully reached this public through the use of three prominent LGBTQI figures as ‘ad girls’. The campaign reached the audiences of successful reality show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’, which the ‘ad girls’ featured on, and encouraged the adoption of American Apparel products for people of any and all definitions. The ‘ad girls’ released a video (below, NSFW), featuring American Apparel products and went on a tour together, including shows in Australia.

(American Apparel Ad Girls with Courtney Act, Alaska 5000 and Willam #AAAgirls,

Without social media, this innovative and clever PR campaign would have been nearly impossible. In order for the campaign to work, publics needed to have an understanding of popular culture and be active users of social media. The campaign is an example of how PR practice has changed from a traditional one-way approach to an interactive, hypertextual practice. It emphasises the new skills PR practitioners need to acquire for their brands to stay relevant and competitive.

Now, whether or not you agree with the lifestyle American Apparel presents, you have to admit that their marketing and PR approach is distinct, innovative and effective.


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