On Campus, It’s One Big Commercial

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
It's move-in day here at the University of North Carolina, and Leila Ismail, stuffed animals in tow, is feeling some freshman angst. A few friendly upperclassmen spring into action. But wait: there is something odd, or at least oddly corporate, about this welcome wagon. These U.N.C. students are all wearing identical T-shirts from American Eagle Outfitters. Turns out three of them are working for that youth clothing chain on this late August morning, as what are known in the trade as “brand ambassadors” or “campus evangelists” — and they have recruited several dozen friends as a volunteer move-in crew. Even before Ms. Ismail can find her dorm or meet her roommate, they cheerily unload her family’s car. Then they lug her belongings to her dorm. Along the way, they dole out American Eagle coupons, American Eagle water canisters and American Eagle pens.

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