Amid Faltering Sales, Gap Launches 'Dress Normal'

With sales at its flagship brand falling, the Gap is looking to broaden its international reach, and plans to spend an additional $25 million on a fall ad campaign that urges Gen Y to flash its fashion personality.

Themed “Dress Normal,” the San Francisco-based retailer says the campaign is a brand rallying cry for individuality, kicking off early next month with such celebrities as Anjelica Huston, Elisabeth Moss, and Jena Malone.

The company says more celebrities will be announced as the campaign continues, and that it will include TV, as well as print, outdoor, mobile, direct, social, in store and digital. Developed in partnership with Wieden+Kennedy New York, taglines encourage consumers to “dress like no one’s watching” and “let your actions speak louder than your clothes.”

“Finding your own version of ‘dress normal’ is an art – my normal is different from your normal, and that’s the essence of the campaign,” says CMO Seth Farbman in its announcement. “This fall, Gap celebrates dressing for yourself and finding those perfect items — a pair of jeans, a t-shirt — that make you feel confident to be your most authentic self.”

The print ads are running in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Italy and Japan, as well as select international franchise markets.

Mid-September, the company also intends to introduce something called the Dress Normal Project, an “experiential element” that will bring “normal” to life.

Separately, despite a 5% drop in comparable-store sales at its Gap units and flat results at Banana Republic, the company reported financial results that beat expectations, and it raised its forecast for the remainder of the year. Net sales climbed 3% to $3.98 billion. Comparable store results at Old Navy increased 4%, as that brand continues to gain share among value shoppers. And online sales rose 11% to $515 million.

The company, which has been aggressively trying to boost its international revenues, also unveiled plans to open franchised stores in India. (It also intends to open five more stores in China, and is on track to finish fiscal 2014 with about 110 Gap stores in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“Given the struggles of the Gap business and a less than compelling spring/summer assortment,” writes analyst Ike Boruchow, who follows the company for Sterne Agee, “management decided to put less marketing dollars behind the spring product, shifting the expenditures to the presumably improved fall assortment (the first line with the full design team in place). With a tough first half out of the way, we see a favorable setup for the next 12 to 18 months given ongoing strength at Old Navy and Banana, and a potential top-line catalyst of new products and marketing at Gap stores.”

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1 comment about "Amid Faltering Sales, Gap Launches 'Dress Normal'".
  1. Michael Strassman from Freelance , August 25, 2014 at 1:29 p.m.
    They might also want to launch an initiative called 'try quality again'. Product quality at the Gap has plummeted over the past 10 years, and consumers are not oblivious. I have 10 yr old Gap t-shirts in better shape than one's I bought 1-2 years ago that have misshapen collars and small holes, and the sweaters I've looked at are equally cheap. They've clearly traded quality for cost savings, and it's biting them in @$$. This is not a problem marketing or design will solve on its own.