Gap Viral Campaign Flirts With Image Revision
"The first thing that struck me was how totally off-brand the ad seems," said Jupiter Research analyst Gary Stein. "It definitely seemed more Abercrombie and Fitch," he added, referring to the teen clothing retailer that is notorious for its salacious ad campaigns, which feature very young models.
Stein, however, did admit he had a good time with the site, and said he saw its potential for viral success.
This was exactly what Jeff Benjamin, interactive creative director at Crispin Porter, wanted to hear. Benjamin dismissed the ad being characterized as sexy, and said he has heard nothing but good things from parents who have commented on the site. "It's definitely much more funny and entertaining than it is sexy," said Benjamin. "The dancing is very Napoleon Dynamite"--an offbeat film's wacky antihero familiar to MTV viewers--"but the real message here is one of changing and change."
Indeed, the viral campaign is just part of a much larger effort by The Gap to change what analysts consider one of the foremost U.S. brands. The company recently began this effort in Denver, Colorado, with complete store redesigns and an extensive outdoor marketing initiative to let consumers know that change is coming, explained Carter Nance, a Crispin Porter vice president and managing supervisor.
"The Gap is pursuing a physical transformation as well as a fundamental transformation of the way it communicates with consumers--starting with online campaigns like this one," said Nance. Nance said stores with The Gap's new look and feel were also on their way to San Diego, Connecticut, and New York City.
No Gap representative was available to speak by press time.
Since The Gap's viral spot launched on Wednesday of last week, it has drawn 360,347 unique hits, according to a Crispin Porter spokesman. Benjamin said it generated 70,000 hits on Saturday alone--which at this early stage is impressive, but still puny compared with the numbers generated by Crispin's now classic subservient chicken ad.
In one day in April of 2004, the creative agency reported a staggering 8.2 million hits to Burger King's viral site, with the average viewing period hitting 8 minutes and 52 seconds. The traffic hit a colossal 12.4 million hits on April 14, with an average viewing period of 6 minutes and 56 seconds.
Asked about The Gap's chances to achieve Burger King's success, Stein was skeptical. "If subservient chicken was a 10, then I'd give The Gap ads a four," Stein said, adding: "Maybe a five and a half."