- On Nov. 1, Gap will launch a cross-channel holiday campaign that calls on shoppers to give "The Gift of Thought," the retailer revealed in a press release shared with Marketing Dive. The campaign tells the heart-tugging story of a mother and son's relationship over the years, with his Gap hoodie as a connecting thread.
- Messaging for the campaign will be featured on Gap.com, the retailer's social media and YouTube pages, as well as in ads for mobile, social, streaming video and audio. The ad will also be featured in digital takeovers on Hulu, Vevo and Facebook Watch. The company has also created interactive shoppable units and custom gift guides this season.
- Hang tags with thoughtful messages printed on them are also part of the effort. For shoppers purchasing pajamas as a gift, the accompanying hang tag reads: "Because sleeping is your favorite sport." For Upcycled Puffer purchases, the hang tag is: "Because you can rock any color and still be green." The effort is Gap's first with New York-based creative agency Johannes Leonardo.
Gap's 2019 holiday push is notable for several reasons, including that it is a clear departure in tone and tactical strategy from recent past Q4 seasonal campaigns, which were known for a heavy TV presence and a big focus on music and dance, often featuring well-known musicians and other celebrities. This year, the brand is foregoing both TV and razzle dazzle in favor of digital placements and a more sentimental story that follows a mother and son through the years.
Focusing on strong storytelling could help the brand appeal to the emotional side of consumers at a time when physical retail is facing a number of challenges. Parent company Gap Inc. reported a 2% decrease in Q2 sales, hitting $4 billion, and has seen income trend downwards over the last couple of seasons. Adding shoppable digital ads keeps the brand current for the growing number of consumers shopping online while a digital focus could be more cost efficient for the marketer than TV ads.
Starting the campaign this year right after Halloween could be a strategic move to get in front of consumers early as Black Friday comes late this year and the holiday shopping season is a week shorter than usual.
Not only is this year's holiday campaign the first with creative agency Johannes Leonardo, it is also Gap's first holiday push since new CMO Alegra O'Hare joined the company in February, according to Ad Age. It also comes at a time when the Gap brand is preparing to separate from Old Navy, which is expected to be completed in 2020.
For the last two years, Gap's holiday messaging featured a diverse cast performing a reworked song and dance number against a simple background. In 2018, the ad focused on spreading love and "feeling good and doing good" in today's "edgy" cultural climate. In 2017, "Meet Me in the Gap" featured hip-hop artist Future and Cher singing a cover of Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People."