Gap Inc.'s Athleta Debuts First TV Spot

Brand Embraces Female Empowerment Marketing Trend

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Athleta unveils its first TV spot.
Athleta unveils its first TV spot. Credit: Athleta

Athleta is taking its "Power of She" message to the small screen. The Gap Inc.-owned seller of women's athletic apparel is unveiling a new marketing campaign focused on female empowerment that will include, for the first time, a 30-second TV spot. The campaign supports the April 26 debut of the Athleta Girl apparel line, which targets ages six to 14.

"We've always been about empowering women through clothing and girls through [our partnership with nonprofit] Girls on the Run," said Elisabeth Charles, who joined as chief marketing officer from Petco last year. "We're taking that positive power of coming together and inviting women and girls to stand together and collaborate and put an end to undermining."

She noted that the campaign is an evolution of the "Power of She" message that has been appearing in Athleta's marketing since 2012; the slogan had been about individual but is now about the collective power of females. The brand, which was founded in 1998 and acquired by San Francisco-based Gap a decade later, will debut a digital hub on its website as part of the marketing effort. The micro-site will include customers' stories of sisterhood centered around yoga, running, surfing and dancing, and visitors will be encouraged to take a pledge to end undermining. Athleta will donate $50,000 to Girls on the Run, and will host an event at its more than 120 stores on May 7 to promote additional pledges.

The brand's TV commercial, which features female athletes, is slated to begin airing in May, though a longer, 60-second version will appear online. A voice-over speaks about the end of frenemies and the power of the sisterhood.

Internal creative and marketing teams at Athleta worked with New York-based Yard on the campaign. Ms. Charles declined to comment on specific spending, but noted that it's the chain's "biggest effort to date in terms of putting investments behind a singular effort and message." In 2015, Athleta spent $5.1 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.

Strengthening its marketing message and spending is one way Athleta can try to get a leg up on competitors, which are increasing in size and popularity. Many, such as Under Armour and Adidas, are also embracing a female-centric marketing approach as they try to drive sales.

Ms. Charles said that Athleta's effort differs from what's already out there. "We are trying to be very specific around not just this broad empowerment, but really celebrating this idea of alone we're strong but united we thrive," she said.

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CORRECTION: Athleta will donate $50,000 to Girls on the Run. The brand provided incorrect information that was published in the original version of this story.

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