Is the Gap back?

A pedestrian walks by a Gap store on February 7, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif.

Have you seen those new ads for the Gap with somebody that looks a lot like George Harrison?  It’s Harrison’s 35-year-old son, Dhani, actually. He’s part of the Gap’s new “Back to Blue” advertising campaign, which marks the retailer’s first television advertising in four years.

After a period of lackluster sales, the Gap is making a turnaround.  Sales at Gap stores that have been open at least a year have made gains for six straight quarters. Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL Strategic Retail, credits the comeback partly to some bare-knuckles cost-cutting, and better clothes offerings. That includes fitness apparel.

Liebmann says after all, anybody can sell jeans these days. She ticks off the competitors: “Cheap and cheerful, which is H&M, Forever 21, Uniqlo, Joe Fresh. Then you’ve got the big box Targets and Walmarts of this world.” Not to mention Levi’s and even higher-end jeans makers.

The Gap, believe it or not, has been around since 1969.  The first store in San Francisco sold Levi’s and vinyl records. Since then the store has sold everything from white cotton Ts to khakis to tangerine-colored jeans. Their TV ads in the past have featured everybody from Madonna to Sara Jessica Parker to LL Cool J.

As for putting the not-so-famous kids of famous boomers in their current advertising, like Billy Joel’s  and George Harrison’s, the move is getting mixed reviews. Liebmann says the ads  just “made her feel old.” But Kevin Coupe at MorningNewsBeat.com calls it “smart.”

“They manage to have their  feet on both sides of the fence,” says Coupe. “Because they’re gonna appeal not just necessarily to kids but quite frankly, they’re also going to appeal to the parents who often are buying those kids’ clothes.”

Putting the generation gap back into The Gap.


Gap is known for having some of the catchiest commercials around. We've rounded up a few of our favorites. What's your favorite Gap commerical? Leave a comment and let us know.

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk.

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