Old Navy Follows Viral Hit With Another Back-to-School Music Video

Retailer Continues To Build Arsenal of Online Video Content

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Old Navy is following up last year's viral hit -- "Unlimited" -- with a new online music video this back-to-school season, created in partnership with DreamWorks Animation's AwesomenessTV.

Like last year's video, which amassed more than 5.7 million YouTube views, the new original "#Unlimited" track centers on the anxieties of the first day of school, while also exploring what it means for kids to unlock their full potential. The online video, which will be the heart of Old Navy's back-to-school effort, adds to the brand's growing archive of digital video content.

The retailer has been shifting its ad dollars away from TV and towards digital video for the past few years, and is currently spending about half as much on TV as it did three years ago, according to Chief Marketing Officer Ivan Wicksteed. Old Navy does not plan to continue reducing its TV spending significantly, but it will continue to shift funds online.

"We're constantly revisiting [our media spending] because the media landscape changes every year," said Mr. Wicksteed. "The percentage of spend that we put toward digital video as opposed traditional TV is increasing and will continue to increase."

The retailer tightened its relationship with AwesomenessTV this year, working closely with the YouTube network and its talent to create and produce the song and video, Mr. Wicksteed said.

The music video is tied to a cause-related push for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which influenced the song's lyrics. In 2014, Old Navy's back-to-school push helped raise $1 million for the organization, and the retailer connected with kids from the program to find out what being "unlimited" meant to them. Songwriter Cisco Adler penned the new song based on those words.

While last year's uplifting track was reminiscent of Disney's "Frozen," this year's tune is poppier, more upbeat and is performed by a broad range of AwesomenessTV talent. The video, which follows the performers throughout a school, was directed in one continuous take by Kurt Hugo Schneider.

"I hope that the video will appeal will primarily to the kids themselves and that they'll enjoy it and want to share it," Mr. Wicksteed said. "But I hope the theme of helping kids to achieve their full potential is a theme that resonate with adults."

The campaign is being promoted with the hashtag "#unlimited" in the video, on social media, and online and in-store with t-shirts featuring the social handle. "We're hoping that all of that content can live around the hashtag," said Mr. Wicksteed. "It first and foremost is a social campaign."

Old Navy's broader back-to-school effort also includes TV spots starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which are a part of the retailer's ongoing broadcast campaign by Chandelier Creative, as well as other digital, social and in-store elements.

The back-to-school period has long been a big sales driver for the retailer, which had a 3% rise in same-store sales last July and a 2% increase in August, according to earnings reports. And Old Navy plans to make a bigger marketing push this year to accelerate that growth.

"It's a sweet spot for us and we always do well for back-to-school, but this year we're challenging ourselves see how big we can make it," said Mr. Wicksteed. He declined to comment on the budget for the push.

Gap, Inc., which owns Old Navy, spent $145 million on U.S. measured-media for the brand in 2014, down from nearly $176 million the year before, according the Ad Age DataCenter.

"#Unlimited" will be available for download with proceeds benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs. A portion of the proceeds from "#unlimited" t-shirt sales will also benefit the organization, and donations will be collected in stores.

The cause-related program with Boys & Girls Clubs, which has expanded from 20 clubs to 100, is close to the brand's heart because it touches many of Old Navy's consumers

"A lot of the people who shop at our stores are mothers and fathers with children and a lot of them also are in the mid-to-lower socio-economic bracket," said Mr. Wicksteed. " It's a topic that is personally relevant for a lot of families."