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This Holiday, Gap Is Selling Optimism --- And Back On TV

Gap is back on national TV this season with a joyful, dance-y effort that it hopes strikes a note of modern optimism at the end of one long, crazy year. 

Called “Dream the Future,” the new ads mark Gap’s return to national TV after a two-year break. 

“It was hard, back in August, to imagine what the consumer’s mood would be post-election,” says Mary Alderete, CMO. “We wondered what kind of gift we could give people. We wanted to capture the brand’s youthful energy -- this collective individualism -- for a feeling of joy.”

She tells Marketing Daily the campaign builds on the retailer’s “Be the Future” effort, supporting the back-to-learning season, launched last month. And it also connects to “Stand United,” ads aimed at promoting unity and community in a rancorous election season.

Alderete says the brand’s idea of modern optimism, as the team first defined it back in February when she moved into the position from the CMO role at Banana Republic,  “kept on gaining relevance as the year went on. Between the pandemic, the death of George Floyd, social distancing -- they all made us want to return to the core values of Gap, bridging the gaps between ages and cultures.”

The need for those connections will likely intensify as the holidays approach, she says. “There’s widespread unemployment and food insecurity. And we probably won’t be together, at least the way we usually are.”

While Gap’s sales have tanked along with other apparel retailers, with store closures sparking a 48% same-store decline in its most recent quarter, Alderete says it is well-positioned to bounce back.

“The casualization of America was happening anyway, and COVID just accelerated it. We see consumers gravitating toward brands they trust, and to brands that demonstrate the same values they have.” Kids and baby clothes have been selling especially well, she adds.

Alderete says the brand has three main goals for this fourth quarter: “We want to add value, remove friction and amplify our brand values.”

The campaign, created in-house, focuses on people who write encouraging words on card stock -- empathy, love, hope and community -- amid a dance-off.

Directed by Christian Weber, the ads are set to “Dream Baby Dream,” sung by Karen O.

And while it still hasn’t finalized all the details, Gap plans to turn the campaign into a social dance challenge linked to Giving Tuesday, with the company donating $10 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for every video uploaded, up to $50,000.

Besides the national TV buys, spots are also on streaming and digital channels, with many product videos. Additionally, there’s a robust social media plan.

Gap’s Banana Republic is also introducing a new holiday effort, marking its first time back on national TV since 2005.

Called “Love the Present,” it tries to underscore “an appreciation for the here and now.” That effort is directed by Cass Bird and focuses on how real-life families and couples show their holiday spirit.

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