Gap tries on iTunes, musicians to lift sales

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Pull on a pair of jeans, get a free iTunes download of your favorite song.

That's the plan for fall at The Gap, which is hoping to lift sinking sales via a promotional linkup with Apples iTunes and advertising featuring musicians Alanis Morissette, Joss Stone and Liz Phair.

"This is a killer brand association," crowed Jeff Jones, exec VP-marketing at Gap, regarding the multi-million dollar back-to-school campaign. Handled by Laird & Partners, New York, and dubbed "Favorites," the effort launching Aug. 8 features the artists singing a remake of their favorite song while wearing their favorite Gap jeans.

The Gap could use a killer association right now with same-store sales tracking down 4% for the first quarter of 2005 with its most recent Joss Stone campaign. The chain also missed the mark last year with a celebrity and music campaign duo of Sarah Jessica Parker and Lenny Kravitz. The critical August and September months didn't deliver the comparable store sales, which tracked at -1% and -2%, respectively. A 2003 push featuring Madonna and Missy Elliott reaped better results, with comps up 1% in August and a whopping 12% in September.

A print effort begins in September magazines, including Vanity Fair, Vogue and Lucky. Then in October, Gap will give away a CD compilation of the artists, along with a director's cut of the TV spots with a $60 purchase. In late August, Gap will also sponsor MTV's "Video Music Awards" for the second year in a row.

Admitting envy for the Starbucks revenue-generating music strategy and nostalgia for Gap's earlier music roots, Mr. Jones said the campaign is just the beginning of plans aimed at reviving Gap's music appeal.


"This is the beginning of major step back to evaluate our many platforms with music. There are so many ways consumers are participating with music. We want to make sure we are connecting with them," he said. "We've always believed that celebrities, whether they are artists or musicians or very famous or up and coming, are all about what Gap brings to American pop culture."

Unlike Starbucks, though, Gap has not earned a dime from music in decades, not since its San Francisco founding in 1969 with a Levi's and records merchandise mix. The last Gap CD release was a Madonna and Missy Elliot compilation, and it was a giveaway, too.

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