This fall, Gap will try eschewing television ads in favor of a print campaign shot by the photographer Annie Leibovitz, who took black-and-white portraits of famous and semi-famous people-like the comedian Sarah Silverman and the actors Forest Whitaker, Lucy Liu and Liev Schreiber. All of them are wearing the type of traditional garb that made Gap such a closet staple-and, the company hopes, of the type people can actually see themselves wearing. The new campaign will launch with the tagline "Classics Redefined," the NY Times reports.
Notably, Gap is not making a commitment to television spots this fall. Jacquie Lenart, vice president of marketing for Gap, said, "When we chose this concept, and went with Annie, we decided it just doesn't lend itself to TV." The portrait ads will be swapped out later this fall for product shots. And while most of the featured clothing items are updated wardrobe basics like a vest and trench coat-one item is described as the biggest fall trend: wide-legged pants. The ads include a price point for each, to communicate Gap's mass appeal, reports Times writer Claire Atkinson.
The campaign was conceived by Trey Laird, Gap's longtime advertising guru, who said he tried to pick people who were perceived as having a lot of integrity and whose projects were of general interest to the public. That way, he said, the campaign might generate speculation over who might appear next and whether the selections were good ones. Other faces of the campaign are actors Selma Blair, Regina King and Ken Watanabe; musicians John Mayer, Puffy and Ami Yumi; choreographer Twyla Tharp; designer Marcel Wanders; and filmmaker Davis Guggenheim.
"They are not the most expected choices, they're not in Us Weekly every week," Laird said. "We wanted some people who weren't so well known to someone like Sarah Silverman, who's in her moment right now." The ads launched over the weekend in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Lucky, Interview, GQ and Dwell, as well as on billboards and bus shelters.
The problems that the campaign will try to help fix are far from small. Consumers have defected from Gap in droves, after many seasons in which the retailer failed to connect with what people wanted to wear. Comparable same-store sales in North America were down 9 percent for June, compared with a decline of 4 percent the previous year, according to the company.
The new print campaign is meant to sharpen the idea of who should shop at Gap, executives involved in it said. "We really believe the sweet spot is someone in their late 20s and early 30s," Lenart said. "We want to speak to that audience and halo up and halo down," meaning that the brand would still have a natural appeal to people both younger and older.