Gap on Tuesday went live with a new fall campaign dubbed "It's Our Denim Now" that the brand in a press release emailed to Retail Dive said "aims to celebrate inclusivity and focus on the heritage of the brand: denim."
The hero film was directed by filmmaker Fleur Fortuné, (who also directed Nike's hijab spot), and images are by photographer/filmmaker Tyler Mitchell. The project was led by the brand's new marketing chief Alegra O'Hare and developed in collaboration with New York-based creative agency Johannes Leonardo.
On Aug. 20, coinciding with its 50th anniversary, Gap will also launch a limited edition "Denim Through the Decades" capsule collection, which includes looks from the '70s, '80s and '90s and pieces from its premium 1969 line, according to its release.
Now its Gap brand, once an apparel powerhouse that seemed to define a high-quality, if casual, American aesthetic, more than ever needs to recapture consumer attention: Soon, if the spin-off goes through, the brand won't be able to rely on Old Navy's financial results for support.
It makes sense for Gap to turn to denim, still a major source of its revenue, for its new campaign. And it also makes sense, as the tagline seems to imply and as the videos present, to bring diversity and body positivity to the forefront. In a statement, O'Hare, noting that it's her first major campaign as Gap's CMO, said, "we wanted to make an impactful statement visually and celebrate Gap's heritage as a denim leader while cementing its future as a brand for all generations."
The campaign's mood, as seen in Fortuné's characteristic dim and dusky style, is more surprising. Set to Ndidi O's bluesy "Move Together," with the lyrics "We can get there faster, If we all move together," the choreography is less languid than static, making it seem unlikely that anyone is getting anywhere very fast.
The spots don't seem destined for the kind of viral reception enjoyed by Levi's "Circles" ad, which helped serve as a social media launchpad ahead of its IPO earlier this year and which presents Levi's as inclusive, spirited and global. They also don't share the exuberance found in Gap's own ads of the '90s, when flash mob-sized groups of dancers leapt to iconic numbers by Louis Prima and others.
But, then, in those days, Gap was confident enough to pit its own khaki assortment against its jeans, at least tongue in cheek. These days, thanks to the consumer focus on price that has propelled Old Navy, coupled with Gap's own diluted brand identity, it has much less room to move.