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Old Navy Retires 'Supermodelquins'

New Music-Centric Campaign Includes Original Songs, Tie-in With Shazam App

By Published on . 21

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Say so long to the "Supermodelquins."

Old Navy's plastic people are going into retirement with the launch of a new campaign, "Old Navy Records: Original hits. Original styles," today. The campaign is slated to run throughout 2011 and will include half a dozen original tracks, as well as a tie-in with mobile app Shazam. It's also the first major marketing push from Amy Curtis-McIntyre, the founding chief marketing officer of JetBlue who joined Old Navy last summer.

The Supermodelquins, introduced by CP&B two years ago, was a successful campaign that put Old Navy "back on the map," said Ms. Curtis-McIntyre, senior VP-marketing. "It was a big dive back into mass marketing for Old Navy and it did a lot of positive things for us. ... It clearly re-established Old Navy as a value player with a sense of humor."

Indeed, when the campaign launched in early 2009, Old Navy's fortunes were sagging. The retail category overall had been hard hit by the recession, and the discount retailer was suffering more than most thanks to an ill-fated fast-fashion experiment. Sales at stores open at least a year had been in decline for two years. Today, Old Navy is a strong performer for Gap Inc., posting a 2% rise in same-store sales for 2010.

But now, Ms. Curtis-McIntyre said, it's time to bring humans back into the mix. Though she doesn't rule out a Supermodelquin return at some point, saying "they're family, so never say never." Supermodelquins will continue to be used in stores as mannequins. "It's difficult to always show the best of our product on plastic people," she said. "We'll use them for displays, but the commitment to music and dancing forced them to take a break."

A video that is only being distributed on Facebook and YouTube serves as a bridge between the two campaigns. The 70-second video is billed as leaked footage of the Supermodelquins trying out for the new commercials. It makes light of the fact that the mannequins aren't able to dance and includes the tagline "Real Music. Real People."

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Old Navy: Super C-U-T-E

Old Navy accounts for the bulk of Gap Inc.'s marketing budget. The discount retailer spent $200 million in 2009 and $210 million through November of 2010, according to Kantar. CP&B remains Old Navy's agency. "This project is [Crispin] at its best," Ms. Curtis-McIntyre said of Old Navy Records.

The retailer is working with music house Honor Roll and industry heavyweight Joseph Kahn, who has won several MTV Video Awards and a Grammy. Old Navy is, on a small scale, acting as a record company to produce original tracks from bands it is creating. The songs will range from crossover country to hip-hop, though they'll all fall under the banner of pop music. "We're creating these bands that have personalities, giving them as much of an authentic light as possible," Ms. Curtis-McIntyre said. "We think it really gives it a wow factor and life beyond the TV spot."

The first spot features a song called "Super C-U-T-E" by an Old Navy Band dubbed Audio Threadz. The video features a young woman who manages to be cute and stylish while running errands and going to the dentist. It promotes a jeans sale running this weekend. Ms. Curtis-McIntyre said the video will appeal to "Jennie," Old Navy's 25- to 35-year-old target customer.

A mobile tie-in with Shazam, the app used to identify songs, will connect the music with actual product. When consumers use the app to identify any of the Old Navy songs, key looks featured in the music video commercial, styling tips and deals will pop up.

"Music has been a big piece of this brand," Ms. Curtis-McIntyre said. "The epiphany was that Old Navy is original. We design our own clothes, so we decided, rather than borrow someone else's music, let's create our own."

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