The three- to five-minute, holiday-themed stories are narrated by Ventimiglia, who plays Peter Petrelli in the cast of NBC's "Heroes," and by other actors. Ventimiglia's production company, Divide Pictures, was also behind AE's "It's a Mall World." That program was directed by Ventimiglia, premiered on MTV in August, and ran for 12 episodes on "The Real World: Sydney" and in AE stores.
The "Mall" series, which follows the lives of a pair of record-store employees, also marked the launch of AE's branded entertainment cross-media venture, 77Entertainment (77E), meant to put consumer-generated and company-generated content online, on TV and in stores.
The 77E strategy involves putting content on AE.com, television, stores, and social-media sites like YouTube and Facebook. The "Holiday" series will run on a microsite within AE.com.
Kathy Savitt, EVP/CMO for the Pittsburgh-based company said, in a release in July that 77E was about using entertainment to capture consumers. "Creating and delivering relevant content is another way for American Eagle to maintain a lasting connection with its customers, as well as promote discovery by introducing them to new artists."
The first two episodes of the holiday shorts are narrated by Ventimiglia and are autobiographic travelogues. Another is narrated by musician Pete Wentz of the band "Fall Out Boy." Adrianne Palicki of "Friday Night Lights", rapper Lil' Jon, and actor Kristen Bell will show up online next week.
Virgin Mobile USA will also run the "AE Winter Tales" shorts on its Sugar Mama mobile ad platform.
American Eagle launched a holiday campaign early last month with Warner Bros. Pictures that aligned with the movie "Fred Claus," starring Vince Vaughn. Besides AE sponsoring a Warner Bros. launch party in Chicago, the 77E microsite hosted trailers and footage of the film, and AE sold "Fred Claus" T-Shirts on its Web site and at AE stores in Chicago.
AE is not a sponsor of "Heroes." Nissan -- using the show to promote its Rogue car -- and Cisco Systems are.