A few weeks ago GAP launched its fall campaign, sending out a new message to their consumers: ‘Dress Normal’. The retail giant wants people to dress the way they want, to be true to themselves. A remarkable statement for a clothing company, no? As Buzzfeed puts it: “Downplaying clothing seems an odd message for a brand that sells $6.4 billion of clothes in a year…”, but for Gap this is completely in line with their brand story.
According to GAP Global Chief Marketing Officer Seth Farbman, there’s a long tradition at GAP that people come first and the clothes are there to make you feel like your best self. ‘Dress Normal’ is a reinforcement of that idea.
Looking back at the brand history, you can indeed see that they stayed true to their roots. The first GAP store was opened in 1969 by Doris & Don Fisher (the founders of GAP). Why? Because Don couldn’t find a pair of jeans that would fit him. They never expected to transform retail, they merely wanted to fill a customer need. Quoting the GAP website: “While many things have changed since 1969, the principles which Don & Doris Fisher founded GAP on have stayed the same: creativity, delivering results, doing what’s right and always thinking of the customer first”.
If we take this story back to our CRUSH formula behind successful brands, we believe GAP hit the nail on the head with this campaign. Their story is authentic and they now ask their customers to be their most authentic self. As Joeri Van den Bergh puts it in his ‘How Cool Brands Stay Hot’ book: “Sticking to your roots is not the same as simply repeating past practices. Authentic brands have to evolve and be creative, but the novelties have to reflect the roots of the brand and the original spirit of the founders”.
So what can we expect from the GAP ‘Dress Normal’ campaign?
They kicked off end of August with their print ads featuring celebs like Angelica Huston, Girls’ Zosia Mamet, Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss… dressed the way they are. The ads include messages such as ‘Dress like no one is watching’ and ‘Let your actions speak louder than your clothes’.
In an interview with Fast Company, Farbman said that every single person chosen for the campaign lives life on their own terms and that is what GAP loves. They are all people whom our customers can identify with and who are known for their own art of ‘Dressing Normal’.
Next up is a series of TV ads by David Fincher (director of Panic Room, House of Cards, Fight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…), whose work is not immediately associated with previous GAP campaigns showing happy and bright people.
According to Farbman (via AdAge), there’s always some level of anxiety in Fincher’s work. By working with Fincher, GAP wants to go beyond what people expect from a GAP commercial. Together, they worked on the insight that Millennials are bombarded with information and have become adept at tuning it out. So instead of bringing a full story, the commercials only tell part of it to leave a sense of wondering. And instead of color, they go back to black and white.
See for yourself…
And finally the campaign will have a big digital component and a type of pop-up shop on a flatbed truck that will visit five cities.
We’re already looking forward to discover what else GAP has in store for us 😉