Recently, American Eagle’s lingerie company, Aerie, released a new campaign called #AerieMan. “The real you is sexy,” the ad told men.
But — April Fools! —the campaign was a hoax, the company has revealed in a release.
But even though the video was a parody, there’s some real news that comes with it: the company revealed in the release that it would stop airbrushing male models in underwear and swimwear come holiday 2016.
“We aren’t afraid of being bold in how we engage our customers, whether through a video that makes you think twice, or challenging the norm in how a brand markets to men,” Chad Kessler, American Eagle’s global brand president, said in a release.
“We are an all-inclusive brand and we know our male customers respond to humor. We look forward to continuing to innovate and evolve the American Eagle Outfitters product offerings.”
The company acknowledged that it had a history of releasing funny parody campaigns around this time of year, such as the “Skinny Skinny Jean” in 2013.
In the faux-campaign, Aerie Man showed off “real” looking men who proudly flaunted their beer bellies, beards, and chest hair. The campaign focused on four “regular” guys — Devon, Kelvin, Doug, and Matt. Some of the videos featured Aerie’s spokes model, Iskra Lawrence.
It was styled similarly to Aerie’s signature airbrush-free campaign, #AerieREAL. Aerie has seen sales skyrocket since nixing airbrushing; for fiscal 2015, comparable sales soared 20%.
Despite the goofy veneer, the campaign simply set out to ignite conversation around body positivity — and it appears that’s exactly what it did.
Many websites had responded to the fake campaign; Mic, for example, praised it. The Huffington Post said it was “pretty great” whether it was a “spoof or not.” The Cut criticised it, as the chunky “Dadbod” is widely accepted in society. (However, even if society at large seems to embrace husky men, it’s actually pretty tough to be a plus size male model.)
Additionally, in the release, the company revealed that it would stop airbrushing male models in underwear and swimwear come Holiday 2016, and that it donated $25,000 to the National Eating Disorder Association.