Bye, Amy Schumer: Old Navy Tries New Approach Sans Celebrities

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Don't count on seeing Old Navy ads with Amy Schumer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus or Elizabeth Banks anytime soon. Under new Chief Marketing Officer Jamie Gersch, the Gap Inc.-owned retailer is going back to basics, replacing its three-year-old funny lady campaign with a more products-driven marketing platform. The new campaign, "Hi, Fashion" will debut Wednesday.

"It's time to move on to something new," said Ms. Gersch, who was appointed CMO in October. "We wanted to make sure the inherent DNA of the brand, surrounded by the fun personality and wink really shines through, but also make sure the product is at the center of everything we do."

Well-fitting pants have the leading role in the first 30-second TV spot, which features a number of derrières in colorful khakis. The light-hearted commercial shows different women climbing out of their bedroom windows as potential suitors wait below, flowers in hand. In one clip, a tattooed dad pedals his toddler's tricycle as his daughter runs behind.

"It's not high fashion, it's 'Hi, Fashion,'" said Ms. Gersch. "We don't want people to take fashion so seriously." A second 30-second spot, which features floral-dress-clad women and girls as a rugged skateboarding crew, will air later this month. Old Navy plans to air around five total spots through the spring and summer in a mix of 30-and 15-second versions. Many of the 15-second clips will be devoted to the digital space, where the San Francisco-based brand is planning a #sayhi social campaign, which includes a host of content and events for influencers and editors with Popsugar.

The last of the ads from the most recent series with Ms. Schumer aired last week.

Chandelier Creative, which has worked with the brand since 2013, handled the TV and radio, while Old Navy's internal team worked on the social component of the campaign. While the new push is similar in budget to previous efforts, it will include some cinema marketing and more digital video. Old Navy, which is approaching $7 billion in annual sales, spent $128.8 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media. Last year, Gap Inc. spent $601 million on total marketing expenses, up $23 million from 2015, according to remarks made on a recent conference call.

The 23-year-old brand has long been the golden goose in the $15.5 billion Gap Inc. portfolio, but suffered some missteps last year after the departures of former CEO Stefan Larsson and prior CMO Ivan Wicksteed. Yet by the end of 2016, Old Navy had regained favor with consumers and reported a 12% increase in same-store sales during the crucial December holiday period. For fiscal 2016, Old Navy had its fifth consecutive year of net sales growth and saw same-store sales increase 1%. Art Peck, chief executive of Gap Inc., even called out the brand's marketing—labeling it "cut-through" on a recent conference call.

"We have a strong marketing voice," said Mr. Peck on the call, noting that Old Navy recently introduced a native app and has already seen good engagement from customers.

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