- Old Navy is kicking off the new year with a digital content series starring Kenan Thompson, according to details shared with Marketing Dive.
- “Lil Interns” depicts the “Saturday Night Live” veteran starting a new job at Old Navy’s corporate offices, only to discover his internship program is designed for elementary school students. Each of the six episodes explores a different business function at the company, like human resources, finance and marketing.
- The Gap Inc. retailer produced the project with creative agency Observatory and entertainment firm Broadway Video. The goal is to hook consumers through pure entertainment value while downplaying heavily branded elements.
Old Navy is ringing in 2023 with an ambitious multi-part video series that aims to be a blend of “The Office” and “Kindergarten Cop.” The content marketing play is indicative of how brands are trying to navigate a growing aversion to traditional advertising while tapping into the high demand for streaming and digital video content.
To that end, Old Navy is not only roping in an established “Saturday Night Live” star in Thompson, but also the entertainment firm behind the weekly comedy program, Broadway Video. The idea is to create something that feels more like a genuine Hollywood production and less like a promotional strategy, a trend that has waxed and waned in marketing over the years. Jason Woliner, of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” served as director for “Lil Interns.”
In the first episode, Thompson arrives at the Old Navy headquarters in San Francisco, California, and acknowledges that his “other job is going to end sooner or later” — a nod to his status as the longest-tenured “Saturday Night Live” cast member. After giving an opening spiel about his potential need for a career pivot, the actor is surprised to find his fellow interns are of the pint-sized variety.
Old Navy is touting the series, which is available on YouTube and has a dedicated website, as unbranded. But the company itself is woven heavily into the narrative, with Thompson and his tyke peers walking through various departments with the help of Old Navy employees, who lay out the retailer’s philosophies behind marketing, retail operations and more.
Each episode features an interactive element on the “Lil Interns” website, like a drawing pad where visitors can sketch an outfit on a model attached to the “Design” installment. The website also has a “Fans React” feedback page and profiles of the students involved.
The effort timed to the new year arrives amid a challenging period for the retail category, which has grappled with inflation and is coming off a hectic holiday season. But Old Navy and parent Gap Inc. have recently weathered some headwinds, seeing a recovery in the third quarter of 2022.