Brand Audit: The Gap

Let’s face it: you can’t swing a dead cat in Anytown, USA without hitting someone who learned how to fold sweaters, er, I mean, worked at The Gap.  In fact, I’m willing to bet a Turkey Sandwich that even YOU worked at The Gap for at least a day.

For whatever reason, The Gap seems to be a bit of a lightning rod when it comes to retailer holiday ad campaigns.  So you might have noticed that The Gap really didn’t have a holiday ad campaign this year.  But what they did do is launch a variety of celebrity filled YouTube videos featuring popular holiday songs.  You can check them out here, here and here.

I totally applaud them for ditching the TV ads and it probably didn’t affect their sales this holiday season one bit.  And I applaud them for embracing social media and trying to do something on YouTube.

Gap Videos Holiday 2008

But here’s the problem: I don’t think it worked.  As far as I can tell from looking at the videos as I write this blog, none of them had over 100,000 views.  Shouldn’t a brand like The Gap have videos that get over 100,000 views?  Good idea, poor execution:

  • Where is the Facebook page? (I couldn’t find it)
  • Where is the integration with these videos in store?
  • Where is the bag stuffer referring consumers to the vids online?
  • Where’s the Twitter support?
  • Most importantly, where is the motivation for consumers to share the videos?

It’s not necessarily all about the number of eyeballs that see the ad, but there really isn’t anything all that viral about this campaign and I think that comes out in the number of views.

But let’s put all of that aside.  I was at The Gap today and it was totally boring and that’s my real issue with them.  If you’re going to whack all of your advertising, then you better improve the actual brand experience, which for The Gap, is in the store itself.

Since you and I both worked at The Gap, we know that every customer that comes in MUST be greeted, right?  Big deal.  What does that do?  How about getting your employees truly excited about the merchandise?  Instead of the boring, “How are you?” how about, “Hi, have you seen these awesome sweaters?”  It’s nothing that some good training couldn’t solve.

Look, I know keeping the jeans and sweatshirts folded is uber important.  But is it the ONLY thing?  And is it more important than interacting with your customers?  And I realize that some people don’t want to be bothered when they shop, but I know there’s a way to talk to people without being annoying.

Instead of boring canned music piped in, how about a DJ spinning records on the busy days?  I’ve seen other stores do this and it’s pretty cool.  You don’t even need to hire someone to do it, just train your employees to do it.

Instead of eroding the perceived quality of your merchandise and training consumers to wait for sales by taking 30% off of everything, what about doing bounce back gift cards?

I know that there are some really smart people that manage The Gap brand, and I think they’ve made some moves in the right direction.  But I think there’s still some work to be done.

For a look at the photos I took at The Gap today, click here.

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