Troubled Apparel Marketer Mounts Holiday Campaign

By Published on .

SAN FRANCISCO ( -- The Gap this week tries to jump start holiday sales with an aggressive marketing
Model Bridget Hall does a GAP sherpa trucker jacket.
push featuring something the specialty store retailer traditionally shies away from: discounts.

'Mystery' gift cards
In addition to holiday TV spots, the struggling retail chain is mailing to Gap and GapBody customers a 37-page holiday gift guide that includes a "mystery" gift card. The card offers discounts ranging from $5 to $100. Customers, however, need to take the card to the store to determine its value.

Gap also will distribute, via newspapers, a 25-page gift guide in 10 markets. In it, consumers will receive another card entitling them to $10 or 15% off on a $50 purchase, depending on the region. In Boston, GapBody's catalog, delivered with the Boston Globe, will offer a 15% discount card. In order to push consumers to shop early, the discounts are good from Nov. 14 through Dec. 6.

New marketing tool
Discounts are a relatively new marketing tool for the Gap, which traditionally focused its marketing efforts on fashion-oriented branding campaigns. But in recent months, Gap has begun to use the word "sale" in its windows and to feature not just seasonal offerings, such as shoes at back-to-school time, but fixed discounts on those products as well.

At the same time, Gap also is expanding its marketing mix by including promotions. Gap is partnering with Yahoo! for a "casting call" contest that will give customers a chance to appear in 2003 Gap print ads.

The marketing changes come as the Gap has shifted direction it had under its former CEO and merchandising guru, Millard Drexler, to that of new chief executive Paul Pressler, a onetime Disney executive who has been on the job at Gap for about a month. Earlier this month, Gap announced that sales at stores open for at least one year increased 11% for the four weeks ended Nov. 2, the first increase in 29 months in this important same-store sales retail indicator.

Holiday imagery
The Gap holiday campaign imagery centers on the theme of "Give Color!" Commercials running on national network and cable programming, in addition to nine spot markets, use music from the song "Love Train." Products featured include the Gap's Crazy Stripe apparel, such as scarves and gloves. Other elements of the Gap holiday campaign include outdoor and transit ads and, borrowing a page from more traditional department stores, the Gap has added red holiday shopping bags and gift boxes.

According to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR, Gap stores spent $96 million in measured media in 2001, with Old Navy spending $110 million and Banana Republic $20 million. For the first eight months of this year, Gap spent $55 million, with Banana Republic spending $6 million and Old Navy $80 million.

Gap creative, from Laird & Partners, New York, offers the usual mix of celebrities and models. But in a rare move for a Gap campaign, print ads feature a half page of copy. In one holiday catalog, for example, consumers are reminded that the "list is long, your time is short." Indeed, the holiday shopping season this year has six fewer days due to a late-arriving Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 28.

Most Popular
In this article: