Artists to TBWA Chiat Day and American Eagle: Screw You

As you'll recall, American Eagle and Ghost Beach worked with TBWA to create Artists Vs. Artists: an "edgy," campaign that asked people to take a stand on music piracy. Wink wink.

Well, this just got sent to our inbox.

Artists vs. American Eagle. An edgy campaign asking people to take a stand on shoplifting and selling out. Wink wink. Artists Vs American Eagle recreates the Ghost Beach site right down to the color palette. But instead of asking you to pick a side on piracy, they're asking you to pick a side on shoplifting from American Eagle. They even have hashtags at the read. #AGAINSTSHOPLIFTAEO and #FORSHOPLIFTAEO


Two things amuse me about this to no end. They're pointing out the hypocrisy of a large corporation sponsoring what is turning out to be a pro-piracy discussion, judging from the outcome of the "discussion." As of writing this, the Artists vs Artists site show just 335 "artists" as being against piracy, while 3,126 are for it.

The second thing this site does is point out TBWA Chiat Day is the agency of record for the Grammys-- an organization that is most assuredly not pro-piracy.

As to who is behind this? Well, It says it is a a Horse And Cow experiment. But when you click on that name, you aren't redirected to a website. Instead, a window pops up that says this:

This is a parody of the highly cynical Artists vs Artists campaign running on the American Eagle Outfitters electronic billboard in Times Square, The Time Square campaign was designed by Madison Avenue Firm TBWA Chiat Day. Our campaign is intended to illustrate there are not two "reasonable" sides when it comes to the issues of exploiting artists without compensation. Just as there are not two sides to the idea of shoplifting, child labor and human trafficking. As as parody and as political speech this site if protected by the first amendment. So chill the f-ck out y'all.

So who do you hate more? Chiat Day? Or American Eagle?

For an update on this story, check out Ghost Beach's press release from our previous article.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Joe Beef's picture

American Eagle had no part in the campaign. Maybe you guys should actually look at some of the articles/discussions instead of writing from your living room couch bubble.

Brian Eno 's picture

Haha. Funny shit. But why are you guys so angry on this site? In general, why are ad people so angry/bitter? Become the artist you've always wanted to be and chill the fuck out. You don't need ads anymore. Just find a cheaper apartment. Eat less sushi.

also, read about this in the NY times. Yes, it's a bit naive but it's better than simply throwing their faces and album art up on the billboard. Pretty cool for the category, which is typically just music videos.

last, i agree piracy is more complex than this, but by making it black and white and using the term "piracy" it really helps to start a conversation again - whether you agree with it or not.

last last, did the person who made this site hate TWBA Chiat Day? That's usually how it works with these things, right? Got fired, didn't get the accounts they wanted and left, or the account girl they fell in love with at the company just left them?

kidsleepy's picture

@joebeef That's funny, when we spoke to American Eagle they said they donated the ad space. When we spoke to Ghost Beach's manager, they told us American Eagle donated the ad space. When I wrote the original article, I pointed out that American Eagle already licensed Ghost Beach's music, for it's Project Live Your Life Campaign. Presumably, they licensed it either for money or for an exchange of services, I'm guessing, ad space. By the way, this was also confirmed by the World Wide PR and Communications Director of TBWA Chiat Day New York. I can even tell you the date we spoke to her. From our offices. Would you like her cell phone number?

Dabitch's picture

Hey, Joe Beef, you can walk downstairs or pick up that office phone of yours and ask Marianne yourself. I also called called a writer on the team, who happily explained that the billboard space donated by American Eagle was thirty seconds 4 times every hour. Posting insulting comments from = priceless.

You could also take the fight to the Artist vs American Eagle site and tell them they're wrong, except of course the space was donated by American Eagle so they're only wrong in Chiat-dayland. Where donating ad space and having a say on what creative goes up on it means you have nothing to do with it.

Pretend Brian Eno - the people behind the Artist vs American Eagle site are artists, and have thus never been fired from an ad agency. Their inability to make a living, never mind even having the option to downgrade their apartment or eat less sushi, isn't really a laughing matter. As for the bitter comment, Dave Trott thinks you're a little child.

Brian Eno 's picture

snap. you got a rebuttal to everything. can't mess with the pro trolls. anyway, just saying I like this idea. btw, who the fuck is dave trott?

kidsleepy's picture

"Brian Eno" I'm not sure how our writing an article about a website and then backing up our findings makes us pro trolls. But we're glad you enjoyed the idea. Thanks for reading, and thanks for linking Brian's website. In this age of piracy I'm sure he could use the dosh.

horse and cow society's picture

It's an American Eagle Outfitters billboard. It's on the front of their store. We looked back months and months there is nothing but American Eagle Outfitter ads on this billboard. American Eagle Outfitters gave the artist the billboard as compensation for use of their song. American Eagle approved the campaign. The artist could not have accomplished this without American Eagle Outfitters assistance. . Ergo it's an American Eagle Outfitters Campaign.

1st rule of public relations: Don't become the story.

horse and cow society's picture

@ Brian Eno.

Guess what? Working professional artists created this site.

@Joe Beef

It's pretty funny that Ad agency and PR professionals don't have a fucking clue how to deal with this. Public falsehoods from the TBWA chiat servers is fucking unbelievable! Go down the hall to legal and tell them what you just did. Hope they let you keep your job.

Dabitch's picture

Here's something to add to all this. Ghost Beach have made a guest column at Billboard :

Why We Took the Piracy Debate to a Times Square Billboard: Guest Column by Ghost Beach

Recently our band Ghost Beach was offered use of a 15,000-square-foot LED billboard in the middle of Times Square. The space was offered to us as an added value as part of a license for our song “Miracle” to be used in an online video for American Eagle.


We took this idea to the advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, who helped us develop the campaign for free.

From the very first article we've stated that TBWA did the work pro-bono, and the billboard was donated by American Eagle. People have told us to get off our " living room couch bubble". Now that this has been publically confirmed by the band loud and clear in Billboard, I expect an apology in the form of brandy-filled chocolates and roses. j/k. But only sort of.

kidsleepy's picture

Yeah, they can stuff it. The Ghost Beach "Why we did it," letter can be found in our previous article that we've updated at the bottom here. Bottom line is, they tried to gain publicity, they chose the wrong topic, and they worked with an agency pro bono. An agency that came up with a half-baked idea that served no purpose except to infuriate people instead of educate them. Well done, TBWA and American Eagle. The lesson we can all learn from this is, whether it's an mp3 or a billboard in Times Square, you get what you pay for.

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