PITTSBURGH — American Beagle Outfitters has pulled off a trick.
The dog clothing line cooked up by pranksters at American Eagle Outfitters proved so viral and appealing that the Pittsburgh-based teen clothing retailer is now lining up ways to make the April Fools’ joke into merchandise available online and in stores by late fall.
“The name is kind of what drove this whole thing,” said Bob Holobinko, vice president of brand marketing, after company officially confirmed Tuesday that, yeah, it started out as a joke announced last week and then picked up momentum.
At some point after the March 24 launch — as social media buzzed with folks hoping the clothing line for pups would be available for purchase — Mr. Holobinko said the American Eagle team decided, “We’ve got to do this for real.”
Among the more impressive parts of the prank was that this is the second year in a row American Eagle has managed to come up with a viral April Fools’ joke. Mr. Holobinko acknowledged that after last year’s “skinny skinny jeans” fake product launch — the jeans were actually realistic-looking paint on models — fooling people twice might be harder.
But there were signs even before this year’s plan went public that it would be good. The idea quickly spread at company headquarters.
A “dogumentary” was filmed mainly using dogs owned by people connected with American Eagle. The video of dogs at the company headquarters explains the “tragedy” in the choices of clothing styles now offered for canines at the mall.
“Imagine a world where you walk into the mall and there’s one store and all they have for you are Halloween costumes. That’s what she’s dealing with,” one dog owner says in the video.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the video had more than 320,000 views on YouTube.com. A twist this year was to use any attention that the promotion might generate for a good cause.
Shoppers were asked to sign up for a waiting list for the first look at the line, while getting a 20 percent discount at American Eagle.
One dollar per order was promised to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. American Eagle said Tuesday that it has donated $100,000.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Teresa F. Lindeman is a reporter at the Post-Gazette.
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