Old Navy May Be In the Market for New Agency

Has Reached Out to Crispin, TBWA, Say Execs

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Struggling with its identity as of late, Old Navy is shopping around for a hot creative agency to help handle its $200 million marketing account, executives familiar with the matter said.
Old Navy last year spent $207 million on domestic measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence, but in the first quarter of 2008 spent about $40 million.
Old Navy last year spent $207 million on domestic measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence, but in the first quarter of 2008 spent about $40 million. Credit: AP

Currently, Old Navy's creative agency of record is boutique shop Chandelier Creative, New York, which has also done work for Nordstrom stores and designers such as Kate Spade and Nanette Lepore.

But in recent weeks the retailer has reached out to a number of larger shops, executives said, including MDC Partners' Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Omnicom Group agencies TBWA/Chiat/Day and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Agency representatives either declined to comment or could not be reached, while a spokeswoman for Old Navy's parent, Gap Inc., declined to comment.

Old Navy last year spent $207 million on domestic measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence, but in the first quarter of 2008 spent about $40 million.

Advertising cuts
The retailer has scaled back its advertising in the wake of its ill-fated fast fashion experiment this spring. Earlier this year, Old Navy took a shot at revamping itself as a fashionable destination for savvy 20-somethings, rolling out edgier merchandise and a multi-pronged campaign featuring svelte young men and women. The initiatives marked a distinct departure from the family-friendly merchandise and campy ads of years past.

Now, Old Navy has abandoned that strategy and is targeting 25- to 35-year-old women who are budget conscious and shopping for their families and themselves. A new marketing message will accompany that shift, Gap Inc. Chairman-CEO Glenn Murphy recently told analysts.

"It will be more appropriate, to not only that demographic but to the brand personality that Old Navy has, which is one of its strongest attributes," he said. "We've kind of abandoned that a little bit over the last number of years, but it's going to return."

Gap Inc. has been keeping a tight rein on marketing budgets for its nameplates, Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic. Mr. Murphy has been vocal about the fact that he will not spend on the brands unless they meet certain criteria; likewise, he has said the company is prepared to invest if the return is there.
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