Written by Noemi Pollack on August 5, 2011.
They say mistakes are often the cost of learning what not to do…
But sometimes the price of those mistakes are simply too steep. Such was the case with the Gap when it rolled out its new logo design last October. It received a very public outcry of protests that flooded the Internet with derisions, mockeries, parodies as well as amateur re-design suggestions. It cost the company two years of work in developing the new logo, oodles of money for its retraction as well as damage control, not to speak of a solid dent in reputation and loyal customer base.
The lesson learnt at that time had little to do with the logo itself and everything to do with the manner in which the new logo was introduced — autocratic and not inclusive. In short, they misjudged their 2010 customer. In my blog of October 12, 2010, and similarly in a blog about the Starbucks logo change, I posed the question as to who owns a brand — the company or its customers?
The answer became very clear, very quickly…
So now in mid-2011, and in the face of poor quarterly profit showings, the Gap is happily changing course, with a new focus on Millennials – the more than 60 million 18-to-35-year olds in the United States, about 20 percent of the population, according to the recent census. This is a sharp shift in focus for a company that had traditionally lured a wide audience with neutral workplace basics, classic denim and bright scarves. The clothes, however lost their allure in recent years. Still, anyone under 30 has most likely never worn Gap jeans and it could either be an uphill battle to unseat that generation from its favorites such as Abercrombie & Fitch Co., American Eagle Outfitters Inc., Aeropostale Inc. and Urban Outfitters Inc. or prove to be a lucrative untapped market.
But this time around, the Gap’s campaign seems to be heading in the right direction, making engagement a key component of its new campaign roll out.
The focus is on interactivity, inclusivity and transparency — much valued elements by this generation. Videos showing “real” stories of how Gap clothing is designed and manufactured in their redesigned “start-up look” LA design studio, will be released on blogs and social media websites, making them available to influential bloggers and other social media mavens. The videos will appear on websites frequented by the young crowd such as Daily Candy, Hulu, Pandora and Rolling Stone. Even the traditional aspects of the campaign have social, digital tweaks in that Gap’s new print ads will feature real-live people dressed in Gap clothes found on the street, in places from NY and Texas to Manchester, England and Nakameguro, Japan, for they will direct people to the online videos.
But the Gap is not above using some time-honored lures, as in feeding people. Taco trucks will be parked in front of stores in major U.S. cities, some with celebrity chefs on board who will create gourmet concoctions at cheap prices and offer free food to anyone wearing Gap clothing, And yes, the photographer will be waiting to take their pictures of anyone wearing Gap clothing for the Gap’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Clearly, Millenials will decide for themselves if the Gap is to become a cool brand once again. But wouldn’t it be cool for the marketing “poster child” of 2010 to now roll out a marketing template for engagement that other manufacturers could adopt as their own?
It’s always true that a good idea bears repeating…