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Gap leverages mobile, digital to reinvent TV investment

After four years of not running a television advertising campaign, Gap is making mobile and social a bigger emphasis for the company in reaching groups of young, tech-savvy consumers.

The specialty retailer is using mobile and digital as components to two new video launches as part of its “Back to Blue” campaign. Gap’s fall campaign’s digital initiatives are part of the brand’s bigger media buy that also includes out-of-home, in-store and print.

“Shopping is an inherently interactive experience, so it only makes sense that converting impressions into sales requires some form of interactive engagement,” said Ujjal Kohli, CEO of  Rhythm NewMedia, Mountain View, CA.

“Through interactive mobile video and mobile rich media advertisements, retailers can entice consumers to browse the brand’s mobile shop,” he said. “All Gap needs is a smart, user-friendly mobile landing page or WAP featuring the types of clothes their audience is likely to want in their closets.”

Mr. Kohli is not affiliated with Gap. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Gap did not meet press deadline.

Mobile, social distribution
The TV spots feature two musicians, Alexa Ray Joel and Dhani Harrison, who are the daughters of Billy Joel and George Harrison, respectively. Both artists perform a song during the TV spot that was made famous by their parents.

To extend the reach of these spots, a series of in-depth images, quotes, interviews and films will circulate through mobile and social platforms.

The content will also be promoted via mobile advertising and Gap’s own social media and partner sites.

Since Gap has not run a TV ad in the past few years, enabling mobile and social elements within a campaign is a smart way for Gap to not only distribute its video content, but also reach consumers through mobile and social mediums, both of which have grown substantially in the past few years.

Social is mobile
Gap is also partnering with Twitter on its fall campaign to make use of promoted tweets and exclusive content.

Gap is testing Twitter’s new TV ad targeting technology, which allows the brand to buy promoted tweets. The tweets will be targeted towards consumers that are tweeting about relevant TV shows where Gap is also running TV ads.

With a significant portion of social media activity happening via mobile, Twitter’s TV targeting is inherently mobile and acts as a second-screen while consumers watch TV.

According to the company, Gap will also use Twitter’s TV ad targeting to reach international consumers in countries such as Britain where the ads are not airing.

Gap is also using Twitter to let followers unlock exclusive clips of video and audio content.

On Sept. 13, Gap leaked audio from both spots via a tweet. To find the artists’ names associated with the song, the tweet had to be retweeted 500 times.

Once Gap’s content had more than 500 retweets, consumers could listen to an exclusive cover of the song “For You Blue” via Soundcloud.

Once 1,000 people retweeted a follow-up message, the ads premiered on-air yesterday at 11:30 a.m. The TV spots will continue to run through primetime.

Gap also turned to mobile earlier this year to promote this year’s campaign through a Tumblr contest.

The brand encouraged consumers to upload GIFs and photos that represented what the color blue meant to them. Gap then picked the winners to be featured in Tumblr’s first takeover mobile ad buy on Aug. 29 (see story).

Although Twitter’s TV targeting is aimed at connecting TV with social, there is still relatively tough, per Mr. Kohli.

“To get someone to tweet after watching a TV ad is a very, very high bar indeed,” he said.

“To get a positive tweet requires the combination of a compelling brand, a compelling ad and a devoted fan of the brand. This would be much harder to accomplish for prospective fans at whom brand ads on TV are often directed or for brands in categories that don’t often make it into tweets.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York