Crispin Picks Up All Ad Work for Gap Brand

Move May Signal Major Marketing Initiative After Focus on Merchandising

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Gap Inc. has quietly expanded its relationship with Crispin Porter & Bogusky, tapping it to handle all advertising for the Gap brand.

Over the summer, the retailer selected the agency, which also handles Old Navy, to create a holiday campaign for the Gap brand. At the time, however, Gap was careful to note that Crispin would only be handling that campaign, while former agency of record Laird & Partners was still a partner. Crispin, Laird & Partners and Campbell-Ewald, among others, participated in the review for the holiday campaign. Now, Gap says it will be working with Crispin well beyond the holidays.

"After a comprehensive review, we've decided to take our advertising in a different direction," said Kim Terry, a spokeswoman for the brand. "We have hired Crispin Porter & Bogusky to partner with us for holiday and beyond. They are well-known for delivering breakthrough campaigns that are both innovative and creative."

Independent Laird & Partners, New York, had been Gap's creative agency of record since 2002, when it was selected to handle print and TV advertising. The agency enjoyed some success, as Gap's same-store sales rebounded in 2003 and 2004. But the brand is now in the midst of 16-month same-store sales decline.

Neither Gap nor Trey Laird, CEO at Laird & Partners, immediately responded to questions about the status of their relationship, though it seems fairly clear that Gap is moving on.

Tapping a big creative agency to handle its advertising likely signals a return to major initiatives by the brand. Gap had shelved splashy campaigns and TV advertising as it worked to improve its product and retail environments.

Glenn Murphy, Gap Inc. chairman-CEO, has said he's been pleased with Crispin's work for Old Navy. That brand's "Supermodelquins" campaign, which broke in February, has been met with enthusiasm from consumers, as same-store sales have rebounded. In August, Old Navy reported a 4% rise in same-store sales, while Gap posted a 7% decline.

Turning the Gap brand around would be a major accomplishment for the San Francisco-based marketer. In 2008, the company's sales fell to $14.5 billion from $15.8 billion in the prior year and have been steadily declining from a five-year high of $16.3 billion. Gap Inc., which is the parent of Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta, spent $435 million on advertising in fiscal 2008, compared with $476 million in 2007 and $573 million in 2006.

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