A&E Distances Itself From 'Duck Dynasty' Days With New Ad Campaign

AE_Brand_Campaign - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of A+E Networks

A&E is officially shedding its image as the Duck Dynasty network. In a new advertising campaign, the cable network is rebranding itself as a platform for serious storytelling. Drawing on key talent, like Leah Remini from its Emmy-nominated series Scientology and the Aftermath, A&E is leaning into its stable of unscripted programming — including Live PD, Born This Way, Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography and Wahlburgers in what the company is dubbing its "Brave Storytellers" campaign.

The campaign will feature a collection of brand films called Look Closer: Brave Storytellers that showcases A&E's individual storytellers — among them Remini, Donnie Wahlberg, Steven Clark, Kevin Lawrence and Elizabeth Smart — as well as a billboard that highlights each of the stars and their respective shows with the tagline We Are A&E. The brand film creative was overseen by A&E's vp brand creative Jonathan Davis, who brought on photographer and artist Amanda Demme to direct the films.

The idea for the brand campaign originated from A+E Networks’ president and CEO, Nancy Dubuc, who intended it as a way to showcase the company's programming and elevate the brand as a whole. Dubuc has also named Amanda Hill as the new A+E Networks CMO, who has been the driving force behind A+E’s new vision. Hill will be tasked with leading brand creative agency Sunshine with executing the vision for the network in collaboration with A+E’s internal team.

"In a world exploding with disposable short form stories, the cultural value of exceptional and brave storytelling has never been higher. A&E has always been and continues to be home to some of the most fearless, factual storytellers and crafts people in the world," said Hill a statement announcing the initiative, which focuses on the theme, "It's only by looking closer that we see."

In addition, the network will unveil a short documentary creative called Look Closer: Across America directed in collaboration with branding agency Sunshine and co-produced by A&E and Samsung Electronics America. The film is written and narrated by poet IN-Q and celebrates individuals' love letters to America. This will be the first chapter in a series. The documentary was filmed in eight cities across America, featuring people of different backgrounds and points of view coming together in homage to America.

Together, the two-pronged campaign is meant to target the "Open Generation," which the network describes as a large, varied audience united by a shared outlook: "interest in the world around them with a low tolerance for bullshit." A&E will aim to reach those viewers with help from Samsung's digital network and digital media pioneer EKO, which will produce a custom interactive digital video featuring singer-songwriter Jhenee Aiko as she puts her own creative twist on IN-Q’s poem for Look Closer: Across America. A&E will also tap into the online network of cause-driven media company ATTN:, which draws 5.7 million views per Facebook video and 2 billion monthly impressions.

Watch an exclusive video of A&E's Look Closer: Brave Storytellers brand film to see how the network is changing its image.