Photo: New Yorker
After a meteoric rise in the nineties, Gap’s stock price peaked in 1999. Since then it has declined over 50 per cent.Gap’s rise, fall and future can be tied to a series of bold advertising campaigns.
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Successful campaigns of the past include “Individuals Of Style,” which featured black-and-white portraits of celebrities wearing their favourite article of Gap clothing, and “Who Wore Khakis,” with bygone celebrities like James Dean and Andy Warhol.
By 2002 when President Mickey Drexler was abruptly fired from the company, however, the brand had lost its footing. “Overall, Gap and its sisters made the all too common mistake of allowing their true brand value – the stuff that resonates with the end user – to get lost in their messages,” says branding guru Rob Frankel. “They shifted out of a more responsible brand message and opted for confusing, obtuse, media-driven advertising that essentially had no message.”
Here, we look at advertising campaigns from the past decade that Gap is counting on to salvage its brand.
Gap devoted $20 to $30 million for this 1998 'Khaki Swing' TV commercial, which aired during E.R. and the final episode of Seinfeld.
This was the year Drexler left Gap. Despite the sex appeal, these four didn't do it for Gap's bottom line.
In 2003, Gap threw in the kitchen sink by bringing in Madonna, and then placing her next to Missy Elliott.
Next, Gap tries out cause marketing. Penelope Cruz, Christy Turlington, John Legend and a slew of other celebrities supported Gap's (RED) campaign.
Launched in October 2006, its (RED) campaign had good intentions: part of its proceeds went to the AIDS organisation co-founded by Bono.
This was a huge campaign. You probably recognise photos like this from every magazine you opened that year. The black-and-white images featured celebrities of movie-star fame and lesser-known artists, musicians and comedians (though John Mayor and Sarah Silverman made the cut).
The Office is a huge hit in 2008, so Gap gets Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute) to sing with Selma Blair for its holiday campaign..
They sing 'Baby It's Cold Outside.'
Gap founder Don Fisher opened his first store in San Francisco after he couldn't find a single pair of jeans that fit. He sold altered Levis. 40 years later, the company says its' designer-style jeans were 'Born to Fit.'
Gap debuted its new logo in October 2010. It lasted only one week amidst tremendous pushback from consumers: 5,000 Twitter followers and more than 2,000 Facebookers were part of the resistance. Gap's president of North American operations, Marka Hansen resigned in early 2011. (Its head designer, Patrick Robinson, was also just let go.)
In 2010, Gap decided to move into Asia. Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz helped launch the 'Let's Gap Together' campaign (not her first). The campaign features artists who 'epitomize freedom and self-expression' in the West and East. In this photo, American graffiti artist Tristan Eaton and Chinese model Ceilien Lau pose together. Currently Gap has around 300 stores in Europe and Asia.
What's next? Clearly, Gap is shaking up management, and it's chasing J.Crew, where Mickey Drexler is credited with reviving its brand. Perhaps the best solution to its sliding sales would be to re-hire Drexler.
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