Old Navy is looking to enlist a few good men.
The retailer is launching its first campaign specifically targeting men this Thursday. It has appealed to guys in the past through its broad family-focused advertising, said Amy Curtis-McIntyre, senior-VP marketing. But now Old Navy is intent on speaking directly to "Mike," it's 25- to 35-year-old target .
"We've made a lot of changes to our assortment, and we really want to ignite a conversation with that male target ," Ms. Curtis-McIntyre said. "It's a big piece of business, and it's time to speak directly to Mike and not just through his girlfriend, wife or sister." Ms. Curtis-McIntyre said the men's product has gone through significant changes in recent seasons, with the addition of new denim washes and styles, as well as the addition of more tailored shirts and pants.
Old Navy's new campaign pokes fun at men's fashion with "Supar Tool" and "Corporado." Videos parody the "Supar Tool," an overly metrosexual man and "Corporado," a corporate cowboy type not unlike the character Dwight on NBC's "The Office." The videos will be distributed on YouTube and Facebook, while print ads will run in publications including Maxim. Mobile elements will include a game, style-finder, video gallery, store locator and coupons. A third video shilling "Jack Ash" leisurewear hasn't been completed but could launch this fall.
Ms. Curtis-McIntyre said the decision was made to focus on videos that would run online or via mobile devices rather than on TV, because men aren't in the right mindset when they're watching TV. "It's difficult to reach men for an item of clothing through TV, it's not particularly effective for us," she said. When a guy's watching really targeted male TV like sports, they're not in a mind frame to look at polo shirts or jeans."
The new campaign is the biggest effort to date from Camp & King, the agency founded by veteran creative Roger Camp and Jamie King, former co-president of Euro RSCG. AKQA also worked on the campaign. CP&B remains Old Navy's lead agency.
The timing for a men's apparel push is right. According to NPD, the men's apparel market was up 3.3% in 2010, ahead of the overall apparel category, which was up 1.9%. And for the three months ending in February, the men's apparel category was up 12% compared to the same period a year ago.
"This is a very healthy growth rate and a clear sign men are looking to rebuild their wardrobes," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group, in a recent report about the men's market. "Not only are men getting their basics back in order, but it looks as though men are starting to spend outside of basics and join in the overall consumer trends that are focused on getting healthier and buying more comfortable lifestyle products."
Mr. Cohen added, "Keep in mind that the menswear market was the first to show signs of decline as the recession began and was one of the last to return, but now it's coming on strong, primarily due to a high level of pent-up demand."
When it comes to clothing, it's often assumed that men rely on the women in their lives to shop for them, making women the key target for marketers. But Ms. Curtis-McIntyre said Old Navy's qualitative research shows that men are shopping for themselves and when they do, they tend to purchase in bulk, making them valuable customers.
"There's a no-BS mentality to the way men shop. They know what they want, what they like and when they find something that fits well and serves a purpose, they won't shop around," Ms. Curtis-McIntyre said. "We've found that if men like a particular cut or style of a shirt or pant, they're more likely to buy multiples."