Gap Global Chief Marketing Officer Seth Farbman contends that marketers are "more honest" and transparent than journalists.
"In journalism, I always had the sense that I was creating information, but the real purpose of that information was to sell something - to sell newspapers and ad space," he said today during a question-and-answer session during the Ad Age Digital Conference in New York.
"Marketing is more honest. People understand that it's all about information. And people want to understand something new," he said. "We're completely transparent about it."
According to his LinkedIn page, Farbman (pictured) was a TV reporter and producer in the 1990s. After that, he's worked in marketing; he joined the Gap last year.
He said the role of journalists has changed, too, at a time when everyone is a publisher. "Everyone is a journalist in a sense. We need to change the way we create advertising from the top down," he said.
That's where community fits into the Gap's marketing approaches.
Farbman outlined several approaches that Gap now takes to connect with customers, prospects, and so-called influencers:
-The Gap is working with Styld.by, a digital platform that makes it easy for people to easily share looks that include Gap clothes. The initiative launched in February with six fashion and lifestyle blogs.
-The Gap has teamed up with Threadless, a community of designers who create custom t-shirts. In one example, the Gap sent a challenge to the Threadless community to create a t-shirt that illustrated, "What does it mean to be bright? What does it mean to be optimistic?" Participants voted for their favorites with winning designs making their way onto t-shirts sold in Gap stores.
-The brand uses Salesforce's Chatter, an enterprise social network tool. By monitoring employee conversations via Chatter, the Gap's c-level executives can flag issues immediately and address them. Previously, some issues may not have come to management's attention until they met with front-line employees during an annual conference or during in-store visits. "Chatter…has allowed employees [to] feel like they are the engine of the company - what they say matters," Farbman said.
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Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.
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