Friday, October 17, 2014

Will promoting Gap Factory be a winning move for The Gap?

A few weeks ago we had a discussion about the fact that it is no longer clear who The Gap's primary target audience is.  That's a problem. 

Not surprisingly Gap Global's August sales declined by 6% versus previous year.  And it was announced that a new CEO will be coming onboard in 2015. (Gap, Inc., 2014)

In the meantime however, there's the critical holiday selling season to be considered.  Interestingly the focus seems to be on Gap Factory, the fashion outlet that carries an exclusive line of value-positioned styles guided by George Kotsiopoulos, co-host of E!'s "Fashion Police."

A new star-studded holiday campaign is scheduled to launch next week.  Featuring supermodels and male athletes, the effort will include print, outdoor, and social media.  (Rodriguez, 2014)

So what do you think?  Is this a good idea?  Will celebrities be able to increase sales?  Or should they be concentrating on their core brand and messaging?

Rodriguez, A. (2014, October 17)  Gap Factory to Launch New Star-Studded Holiday Push.  Retrieved October 17, 2014, from


  1. Using celebrity (supermodels and and male athletes) in advertising is one of the most popular forms of retail advertising, and the number one reason for doing this is that the companies believe that these celebrities can bring positive impact to their products in the market and push up financial returns.

    The first tastefully created ad campaign, using celebrities, that comes in my mind is, the Got Milk? advertising campaign encouraging the consumption of milk, where actors, athletes, musicians tv-hosts and other celebrities offered their face to participate to the ‘Got Milk?’ movement.

    To do good advertising, you need to know your target audience and to know which of their buttons to press, then make strategies around it. Knowing your key audience and key market is basic to good advertising.

    In this case I agree Gap does not have or know their target audience, and first they should probably focus on finding their target audience, know their core values, the media they consume and the type of ads they find compelling that help them make retail decisions. Once having core knowledge of their target audience, using a celebrity or not into their ad campaigns will not really matter then.

    A successful ad campaign, using a celebrity, when Totes used Rihanna and her popular "Umbrella” song in their campaign. Rihanna’s hit song and her designs for Totes' umbrellas hit big at the retailers. Here, Totes the company innovated a new exclusive product line with Rihanna. If Gap does something similar along those lines with George Kotsiopoulos, co-host of E!'s "Fashion Police,” it might be worth using a celebrity….

  2. Spokesperson are very delicate to choose, because everything they do in real life could affect (or even harm) the brand they are endorsing. I think the best way to engage youth and young adults is the use social media; this way, the company would make good use of technology and word-of-mouth in GAP's favor.

    I think they could use some 'do your own look' feature, mixing their products to get real, practical and (why not) fashionable styles. How this skirt goes / these pants go with this blouse or that cardigan? Help your consumer getting ideas of looks!

    You could also run a campaign for top 15 best 'combinations', using only GAP clothing. They could upload their own pictures to be evaluated by customers and experts. Prize would be starring in next GAP catalogue or a certain amount of money in GAP clothes and accessories.

    GAP needs to listen to their customers and makes them aware of that: let them help you!

  3. Here are my first impressions and concerns regarding GAP’s marketing as it relates to its underperformance:

    1) In August, Banana Republic launched “360 lifestyle. #ThenewBR”: a re-positioning of BR as a casual, everyday brand. While this may be good for BR’s sales—as the October report shows—this is encroaching on territory that traditionally belongs to GAP, cannibalizing sales of the latter brand. (i, ii)

    2) The recent GAP #DRESSNORMAL campaign. Yikes. It only adds to its image as a very vanilla (bland) brand. (iii)

    3) Men’s Line vs. Women’s Line. It’s fantastic that the Men's have partnered with GQ, that they are focusing on breakout menswear designers, and making these affordable for their target demographic—male, 25-35, $50,000-$65,000. GQ is the perfect venue (median age: 33.8/Household Income: $73,439, according to its print kit). Regarding the women’s line, it seems that the main campaign for this is the unfortunate #DRESSNORMAL campaign, which I guess targets the Meek Market? (Just coined a new term!). (iv, v)






  4. I believe that the new strategy Gap wants to implement may represent a huge risk and therefore a significant waste of money. How they would succeed to feature a known person, with the goal of improving in their sales, if they don't know who really is they audience and neither who will call their attention? In a general view, in my opinion this is illogical. Additionally, i would also say this represents a rare situation for me, due to the fact that GAP is a world wide brand.
    So, they must first of all, determine their audiences. Then state their strategies, which would make the brand out-stand from the others in the market in a particular way with more than one reason and, without affecting the traditional message GAP has always communicate.

    Natalia Ramirez

  5. In the past years The Gap Ads were very musical, with people dancing and famous celebrities in most of them. (Like Lenny Kravitz, Sarah Jessica Parker, Orlando Bloom etc.) .

    The “Dress Normal” campaign launched by The Company at the beginnings of 2014 is very neutral, doesn’t include many colors, and the message is not concise.

    Since its sales are going down maybe what they are tiring to do is going back to its old model of advertising, because that worked for them in the past years.

    However could be more helpful for them to focus in its core brand and the message that they are giving to the audience, and after that develop the accurate tactics to reach its strategy and increase its sales.

    Ana Paola Martinez

  6. I think that featuring supermodels and male athletes will be a waste of time and money because as Natalia said, they need first to identify their audience in order to execute the plan. A few years ago, GAP represented to me a brand of basics for a very good price. Every time I came for vacations with my family GAP was one of the stores in the list since they offered good quality cloth for all the family. After some years, GAP increased their prices and the basic things I used to buy there, I changed to H&M or Forever because it was cheaper and not so basic.

    Today, I really don’t go to their stores and I don’t think that any celebrity will make me want to buy their clothes. So, I don’t think this is a good idea, on the contrary I would recommend them to concentrate more on identifying their target and core brand message.


  7. Bringing in spoke people in this case might help the Gap. Trying to recapture people's attention seems to be the goal here, and ads with celebrity spokespeople might succeed in doing that. Holiday ads tend to be a bit flashier, and if the goal is to get a quick sales boost...maybe this will work. I do think that the GAP likely has to do some overhauling on their core brand messaging, but holiday is a time of significant increases in retail shopping. In looking at the Gap august sales results posted on their website, it seems that Old Navy is the only one of their brands that is doing better than last year with the Gap and Banana Republic suffering loses( Old Navy is also their more bargain oriented brand. With this in mind, I would think that pushing Gap Factory over their regular Gap stores, seems like a wise decision. Using a line of products tied “Fashion Police” and George Kotsiopoulos also seems like a good bet. The show attracts a millennial viewership with high ratings among adults/women18-34 (according to and remains popular. E! is renewing the show for a 5th season after all, even without Joan Rivers. So focusing on Gap Factory, bringing in some celebrity faces to holiday advertisements, these seem like potential useful boosts to the company’s sales. Still, these short term solutions don’t necessarily solve the Gap’s problems. Clarifying their core brand, better identifying their primary target audience, and focusing on marketing to them sounds like it will probably still be crucial for more long term success.


  8. I remember the overall excitement when GAP was entering the Polish market about 3 years ago. They had a large campaign ( OOH, digital) and lots of press and customer interest. Then after several months, when excitement vanished, the brand got lost with the competition and after just 3 years GAP decided to leave the Polish market and they closed all the stores within few months. So the brand problem does not concern only American market, I believe it's the general lack of defined target and cohesive idea of to whom sell it and how. I don't believe that engaging celebrities will help the brand. I think it's a shortcut that many brands decide to use, thinking that celebrity will solve all their market problems and will engage the public. In today's world, full of celebrities at every corner of the street and at almost every campaign, this, in my opinion, will not be the answer. It might work for a short period of time but on the long term, the brands needs to focus on clarifying and identifying their core target first.


  9. I guess they just don't have to time to #WORKNORMAL and it's quick-hack before the seasons starts. I think they will get more starting this campaign will celebrities than being
    quiet while conducting research and getting ready for re-positioning.

    If they lucky enough to choose models, looks, music and message that will work together for loyal and light users - they might have rather successful sales this season.

  10. I believe that GAP has the same problem that one of the biggest food chain restaurant in my country called Presto. They served mostly hamburgers, and they had the same problem, they were struggling with the real target. They have change 5 times their CMO, they restructured the menu several others and they even changed their logo. Now, they focused only on people with a higher social status (higher prices) and they forgot about kids. Nowadays they are much better, doing only one thing at a time. Presto knew that the space for kids was already taken by McDonalds and that the youth target was already property of El Corral, so they became experts in the grow of a more exclusive target. I believe GAP has to re target, to analyse the benchmarks that are already in the market and to analyse how are them in against their competitors. GAP is a huge company, they had more than 136,000 employees and 3,400 stores in 47 countries ( How is possible that after 45 years from its first store opening ( they had encounter with this huge struggle? Its a question that may sound unreal, and may be attributed to the wanting satisfy everyone at the same time. I saw a video of Seth Farbman, the Global CMO of Gap talking about his view and way to market this brand. He says that Gap is a Heart Brand, that people loves them and that one of their assets. My opinion is that when they try to reach different targets that are already taken, they should fight, and the fight will compromise the resources that could better lead more accurate campaigns.

    Here is a quote from the video who’s url I send you below.

    “My view is that your long term purpose, the tone of the brand and your belief system should never change but the way you express it can change time and time again.” (Seth Farbman, Global CMO, Gap)


  11. At this time, it would be even more fascinating than ever to be able to be a fly on the wall and to choose to go to the Gap office at their strategy meetings. Hopefully one would then hear how they now define their target audience - cause I mean, they must have a defined target! The problem is however that at the moment that target audience is not translated into their ads and marketing efforts - leaving us, their possible consumers confused.

    What I believe the Gap should do is to take a step back and reevaluate, see what message they are sending out at the moment and what they have to change to be able to attract their target.

    Using supermodels and athlets in their ads I believe can be a great idea to show their consumers that the brand is up-to-date and desirable (it all depends on which stars they choose of course, their Q-score etc). What one have to keep in mind is however that its very expensive to use stars in advertising, and the question is whether the timing is right with the declining numbers and confusion that seems to exist in the overall brand strategy of the Gap.

  12. I'm not sure George Kotsiopoulos or rolling out celebrities will dig the Gap out of it's declining sales problem. It feels like smoke and mirrors that will continue to confuse the consumer. The powers that be really need to redefine their brand and isolate a target audience. There's just so many mid range clothing sources now that in one word I could describe. For example UniGlo (Fun) and H&M (Fashionable). The one word I think of when I think of Gap is "basic" and I don't think you can grow as a brand with that kind of image.

    Going further I think Gap needs to rethink how they organize their stores. When I walk in one it feels early 2000's. Stuff is all over the place and their is no flow to the store. When you walk into an Uniglo the store feels fashion forward with it's white backdrops and eye popping color arrangements. The workers too are trained in such a way to illicit engagement. When I think of Gap workers all that comes to mind to me is the old notion they are experts in folding.

  13. In my opinion before they launch any campaigne and invest money in any type of advertising they have to define their audience, objectives and strategies. We are in a very competitve market and without that they are risking a very significant amount of money launching a campaign that clearly involves a high investment if it includes celebrities because their sales might not increase and thats what they need right now.
    They should define everything that involves with their market: beginning with their audience and then the objective of the campaign and the strategies to execute it.

  14. I think that Gap knows what their audience is, but they are focusing on getting it right with the millennials. It is a transition to a younger generation and celebrities and social media seems to be a great way to get to them. What they need to pay attention to, is their message and the way they promote it.