GAP RETURNS TO TV IN $15 MIL CAMPAIGN

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The Gap, which has shied away from heavy spending on national TV advertising since the mid-1980s, returns this week with a branding campaign that revives its famous "Fall into the Gap" slogan.

The campaign reasserts Gap's presence in the denim market, in which designer brands and department-store private labels have been building share.

Levi Strauss & Co., as reported earlier, is preparing its own jeans branding effort.

PROMOTES EASY-FIT JEANS

The estimated $10 million to $15 million campaign, which broke April 27 during ABC's airing of the miniseries "Stephen King's `The Shining,'*" promotes the Gap's easy-fit jeans.

The first spot features rapper LL Cool J rendering his personal definition of "easy" in an original piece.

WHAT GAP STANDS FOR

"You're fallin' once you hear the Gap callin'," he says, following with "G" is for gritty, "A" is for always, "P" is for power and the people.

"How easy is this?" he asks before closing with "Fall into the Gap" and throwing a kiss to viewers.

The rapper appears in another similar ad, and the campaign includes four additional spots. In two of those, actor Lukas Haas plays a keyboard when another actor, David Arquette, jumps into the picture playing a trumpet.

"This is definitely easy," Mr. Arquette says. The ads conclude with five notes from the "Fall into the Gap" theme, but no spoken words.

In two other spots, another actor, Eric Mabius, plays conga drums and declares, "This is really easy."

BROADCAST, CABLE SCHEDULE

The Gap will air the national ads more than 600 times in the next two weeks on ABC, NBC and Fox. Among the scheduled programs: "Melrose Place," "NYPD Blue," "The X-Files" and "King of the Hill."

Ads will also run on cable's MTV, VH-1, ESPN and Comedy Central.

Additional media weight was added in key Gap markets New York, Chicago and San Francisco.

The campaign also includes ads on buses, outdoor boards and walls.

"Our goal is to capture the look that is Gap," said Michael McCadden, recently promoted to senior VP-marketing for the Gap.

After the two week flight, Mr. McCadden will evaluate whether the campaign will continue into the fall or whether a new approach will be taken.

Mr. McCadden said he decided to bring back the "Fall into the Gap" theme to salute the Gap's advertising history.

"It has a certain power," he said of the line. "This campaign is a salute to the history of the brand, while giving it a completely modern voice."

Early Gap advertising used the theme "Fall into the Gap" primarily for retail promotions for the brands it sold, primarily from Levi Strauss & Co. and the Gap's house brand of jeans.

When Millard Drexler was hired as president in 1983, he revitalized the company's 500 stores and moved the brand into its more recent store format.

MOVE INTO PRINT, OUTDOOR

By 1985, the Gap had stopped its "Fall into the Gap" campaign, placing its advertising budget into print and outdoor. In fact, only $861,000 of the retailer's $24.2 million in measured ad spending last year went into TV, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Gap has since almost doubled the number of stores to 938.

At the same time, the Gap has attempted to take an element of print advertising, the fragrance strip, and add it to the online world through a whimsical musical rendition of the "sound" of its perfume and body lotion lines.

For example, its "Om" scent is reminiscent of a meditation chant, while "Grass" has the sound of crickets in the grass at dusk.

These sounds can be heard by clicking on an icon in the Gap's online ads.

"As marketers, we know what they sound like," said Mr. McCadden.

The Gap is advertising on all 13 of the Digital City local content sites for markets such as Washington and Boston, with promotions planned for the Mother's Day, Father's Day, school graduation and back to school seasons.

Contributing: Jane Hodges

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