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Gap Gets Nostalgic for Days of Yore

Ad Age

October 24, 2017

By Adrianne Pasquarelli

Anyone nostalgic for Gap’s late 90s/early aughts music-fueled commercials will be enthused by the retailer’s new holiday work. The San Francisco-based brand is continuing its “Meet in the Gap” messaging from September with 
a musical number featuring actress and singer Janelle Monáe and set to “(You) Got What I Need.”

“Music has always been the foundation of Gap,” says Craig Brommers, who joined the Gap Inc. namesake brand last year as chief marketing officer. Earlier this year, Gap debuted a campaign featuring the children of its 90s spokespeople; a recent fall campaign featured Cher.

Monáe and a 50-person choir, which is diverse in both age and ethnicity, sing in front of a white background, in keeping with many of Gap’s recent spots. While a 60-second ad will run on digital platforms, Gap will air 30-and-15-second clips on national TV. Brommers notes that Gap has also made a significant digital investment with paid media on Facebook, Snapchat, Refinery 29, Vogue and Buzzfeed.

Last year, Gap spent $8.8 million on measured media in the U.S. during the holiday period of November and December, according to Kantar Media—a stark difference compared with sibling brand Old Navy, on which the company spent more than $52 million for the period. Gap’s internal creative team worked with Yard NYC—the agency behind the recent revival of Crocs—on the new campaign, which was shot in Los Angeles and will debut Nov. 6. Omnicom’s PHD handled media duties while AKQA worked on digital.

The commercial’s inclusion of a crazy-striped sweater, one of the brand’s signature products, is “ownable” by the company, Brommers adds.

Crazy stripes aside, though, Gap is a clothier operating in a retail landscape that is increasingly unkind to apparel brands. For the second-quarter, the brand reported a comparable-stores decline of 1 percent, which counts as a step up from last year’s 3 percent decline. The company is closing stores in its portfolio—roughly 200 when combined with sister brand Banana Republic. Gap does have one high-profile store opening on the horizon: The company’s Times Square flagship, the former Toys R Us space that will be shared with Old Navy, opens Friday. Brommers notes that Gap will also try to make the most of its brick-and-mortar sites to better connect with consumers by offering services like gift wrapping and do-it-yourself denim.