NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Three and a half months after a massive branding fiasco that earned the name "LogoGate," Gap is cleaning house and trying to start anew.
The retailer has named WPP's Ogilvy its new global agency of record, supplanting longtime agency Laird & Partners, and it's also swapping out 24-year company veteran and North American President Marka Hansen for Art Peck, who has run Gap's outlet business for the past three years.
And in an unusual twist, Gap simultaneously plucked a chief marketing officer from its new agency. Seth Farbman, Ogilvy's worldwide managing director and founder of sustainability practice OgilvyEarth, will serve as the first global chief marketing officer for the Gap brand. For the past couple of years Ivy Ross has led marketing for the Gap brand, and she is now taking on a different role elsewhere in the company, Gap spokeswoman Louise Callagy told Ad Age.
Gap is also shifting its global marketing operation to New York -- where Mr. Farbman will be based -- and has set up a new "global creative center" that will centralize public relations, design and production. Leading the new center will be Pam Wallack, the current president of Gap Adult North America, and also housed there will be well-known Gap designer Patrick Robinson.
The wave of changes was announced by the company in a press release sent out at midnight Eastern time; it was the second announcement out of the San Francisco-based retailer within 24 hours.
Earlier in the day, Gap issued an unusually candid press release announcing that Ms. Hansen was stepping down effective Feb. 4. "After several conversations, Marka and I agreed this was the right time for a change in the organization in order to take Gap brand to a new level," Gap Inc. Chairman-CEO Glenn Murphy said in the statement. "I am grateful for all that Marka has contributed to the company."
Ms. Hansen started at the company's Banana Republic unit in 1987, rising through the ranks in top merchandising roles at both Banana Republic and Gap, and had a hand in the retailer expanding its footprint to Japan and Europe. In 2003, she was named president of Banana Republic and four years later, tapped to serve as president of North America.
She was also one of the most visible executives connected with Gap's rebranding disaster in the fall. In October, Ad Age broke the news that within just four days of introducing a new Gap logo, which re-created the retailer's name in a bold Helvetica font and perched a blue gradated box atop the "P," the marketer caved to customer backlash on Facebook and on blogs and reverted to the old design.
The debacle was what many analysts viewed as another setback for the brand, which has been plagued with declining same-store sales for several years. It is expected to report new sales numbers on Feb. 3.
"I expect more from our Gap business in North America," Mr. Murphy said as part of his most recent public statement. "The changes we're making are intended to propel the brand to deliver the product and brand experiences our customers demand worldwide."
According to Ms. Callagy, the exit of Ms. Hansen and the dismissal of Laird & Partners as Gap's agency doesn't stem from the logo controversy alone. "It's a very thoughtful and deliberate plan and is designed to help return the brand to health," she said. She added that talks with Ogilvy preceded Gap's logo controversy, and that the agency and retailer have been holding discussions about potential work since an agency review the retailer called in the summer of 2010.
Between the two press releases and an audio file, in which Mr. Murphy verbally explains the changes to the public, Gap's behavior has taken a turn-for-the-transparent. Asked what's behind the new approach, Ms. Callagy acknowledged it was a conscious move on behalf of the company, and said: "There's a level of transparency that's expected now from consumers, who want to have a dialogue and not just be spoken to."
~ ~ ~
Contributing: Andrew Hampp