A Gap spokeswoman said the retailer "would not characterize Laird & Partners as an agency of record." The shop, she said, will create a fall campaign, and "we will evaluate the relationship from there."
The Gap has steadfastly maintained a high-profile in-house advertising department.
The New York-based start-up, led by Trey Laird, will work in conjunction with the Gap's in-house marketing department. In 2001, the retailer spent an estimated $90 million on its flagship brand.
Mr. Laird, 37, was most recently executive vice president and corporate creative director for Donna Karan International, a division of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. In addition to the Gap, Laird & Partners, with billings of $120 million, also counts as a client Mr. Laird's former employer, handling creative development and media planning, among other duties, for the fashion house.
Last week, the Gap announced that Lisa Prisco, who produced some of the company's most famous TV campaigns such as Khakis Swing, will produce ads scheduled for May 2002 release.
The Gap has been fighting a same-store sales decline for some 21 months.
A Gap marketing reorganization earlier this year did not impact Peter Hempel, executive vice president of Gap marketing.
'Fix what's broken'
A retail analyst and economist told AdAge.com that the "Gap has to fix what's broken."
"The thing most broken," he added, "is not the advertising."