How to become famous and make millions by buying a pair of socks

by: Charles Gaiennie on


Ever thought you could become famous and make millions just from buying a pair of socks? Well, you probably can't. Sorry to get your hopes up, but you'll only get 15 seconds of fame from your sock purchase. You can make millions, however, if you own shares of American Eagle Outfitters (AE).


Here's the catch.


In November 2009 AE installed 25-story digital displays on the exterior of its flagship store in Times Square. With almost 3.3 million pixels in the 15,000 square foot LED display, the digital signage is essentially the world's largest picture frame and one of the cleverest advertising tools I've ever heard of.


After a purchase (here's where the socks come in) customers are invited to a photo booth. Their pictures are then displayed on the exterior digital displays along with a 20-character "personal message to the world." It's that simple. Fifteen seconds of fame just from buying a pair of socks (at $6.50 they were the cheapest item in the store in 2009).


AE's digital display is a perfect example of how small incentives can go a long way. By requiring a purchase before broadcasting the photo message, the popular clothing retailer makes big bucks just because someone wants to see their name in lights in Times Square without all the auditions and vocal training. Talk about marketing driving sales. A dream-come-true for some and an appeal to vanity for others, the digital display is simple, but effective. Very effective.


And they're good for more than just bringing in sales. Think about all the people who update their Facebook statuses and tweet their pictures on the display, quickly spreading American Eagle's name to millions of people online. Since most of AE's customers are young technologically-savvy social media purveyors, they hit the mark on brand recognition and viral marketing.


Broadcasting promotions and customer photos 18 hours a day, AE's larger-than-life digital displays are a brilliant campaign.

© Copyright The W.L. Gaiennie Company 2016