Old Navy Taps Jimmy Kimmel For Flip-Flop Campaign

Vending Machines Dispense Free Flip Flops If Consumers Tweet

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Old Navy is guaranteeing itself some tweets by giving free flip-flops to people who post a code to Twitter.
Old Navy is guaranteeing itself some tweets by giving free flip-flops to people who post a code to Twitter.

Old Navy is enlisting Jimmy Kimmel to create content for its flip-flop sale.

The retailer says the sale, which discounts all Old Navy flip flops to $1 per pair, is one of its biggest annual events, and this year it's taking a bit of a different approach to its marketing.

The late-night host and his team of writers have created a skit to air Thursday during "Jimmy Kimmel Live" that uses the flip-flops in a "unique" way, a spokeswoman said. Terms were not disclosed. This year's sale is June 28.

Old Navy will also push out the skit through its own social media channels and website, and it will live on Mr. Kimmel's YouTube page.

Old Navy has been willing to give up some creative control to produce content its executives think consumers will want to engage with, said Ivan Wicksteed, chief marketing officer, Old Navy.

"We have been changing our approach to TV," Mr. Wicksteed said. Recently, Old Navy partnered with comedian Amy Poehler for several spots.

When working with talent like Mr. Kimmel or Ms. Poehler, Old Navy is relinquishing most of the control in developing ideas and creating the spot, Mr. Wicksteed said, who called the strategy successful so far. Mr. Wicksteed noted that in some cases the outtakes of Ms. Poehler's spots garnered more views online than the spots themselves.

As part of the flip-flop campaign, Old Navy is also positioning 36 flip-flop vending machines in New York and Los Angeles that dispense free flip-flops when consumers tweet a code. Old Navy will be giving away 9,000 flip flops in this way, essentially guaranteeing the retailer 9,000 tweets.

"In order to be relevant we need to be part of the cultural conversation," said Mr. Wicksteed, who became CMO of the company in February 2013.

Old Navy has been shifting its marketing spend out of traditional media into alternative distribution channels, which Mr. Wicksteed said are "more effective and efficient."

That doesn't mean it's gone all-social -- far from it. Traditional TV continues to be a big part of Old Navy's marketing mix, and Mr. Wicksteed said that will continue to be the case for years to come. Still, over the past year Mr. Wicksteed said the company has significantly reduced the amount of money it spends on TV.

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