Gap Pushes New Campaign With Children of Its '90s Spokespeople (and Naomi Campbell)

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Everyone knows Gap's heyday was in the '90s. Now, the struggling clothier is trying to use its past to improve its future. On Thursday, the San Francisco-based brand, which is owned by Gap Inc., unveiled a new campaign, "Generation Gap," to promote the chain's reissue of archived items from the '90s, like khakis, logo sweatshirts, and certain T-shirts, for sale this month. New Chief Marketing Officer Craig Brommers tapped the children of celebrities who starred in Gap's original 90s campaigns, such as Demi Moore's daughter Rumer Willis, and Diana Ross' son Evan Ross, for the new effort.

"The '90s is having a moment, and you could argue that no retail brand thrived as much as Gap did in the 1990s, so it made sense to dig into the archives," said Mr. Brommers, who joined Gap late last year after working at Abercrombie & Fitch, noting that the brand is at its best when telling stories of emotional resonance.

The campaign includes a nearly two-minute digital video featuring Ms. Willis and Mr. Ross, who are joined by others, including Mick Jagger's daughter Elizabeth Jagger and Kim Gordon's daughter Coco Gordon, in singing 90s hit "All 4 Love" by Color Me Badd. Supermodel Naomi Campbell, who promoted Gap in the 90s, is also in the spot. Gap plans to air a 30-second version of the video in 10 local markets during the Grammy Awards broadcast on Feb. 12. The brand will also push out additional clips via social media including Snapchat, Instagram and Youtube.

Kevin Calero directed the "Generation Gap" video. Gap's in-house team also worked with New York-based Storey, a division of North Six.

"[Gap] has had some great advertising campaigns in the past, so the idea of doing something that reflects their heritage, but done so in a modern way … that part I'm OK with," said Kevin Keller, a marketing professor at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business. "But it's all going to come down to what's in the stores and everything else." He noted the importance of on-trend merchandise and a cohesive store experience to better integrate the new advertising.

Gap, a 48-year-old brand, returned to TV at the end of last year after a two-year hiatus. Last August, Art Peck, the chief executive of Gap Inc., said the namesake brand would ramp up its marketing in coming months after sales continued to fall. For the first 11 months of 2016, Gap Inc. spent $118.7 million on measured media in the U.S. for its brands, according to Kantar Media. In 2015, the company spent $164 million, more than 26% less than 2014, according to Ad Age's Datacenter.

Though Gap's sales have spiraled downward in recent years, the brand did show a glimmer of hope during the holiday season. Last month, Gap Inc. reported a 3% uptick in net sales to $2.07 billion for the November and December season. Same-store sales at the Gap brand were up 1% compared with a 2% decline in 2015.

Mr. Brommers noted that this will not be the last time the brand makes use of its iconicness.

"The authentic heritage of Gap is something we'll continue to explore as we look to modernize the brand," Mr. Brommers said.

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