The Gap Steps Up to Social Media in New Denim Campaign

The Gap, once admired for its TV commercials as much as its clothes, is banking on a new line of denim wear to help revive its sagging brand. But don’t expect to hear about it on television.

The new ad campaign from The Gap, titled “Born to Fit,” includes no TV commercials, instead placing a greater emphasis on Web advertising and social media — Facebook, specifically — than any effort in the retailer’s history. Offline, there are print, cinema and outdoor ads, but all will drive consumers to the initiative’s Facebook page. The effort launched on Thursday, August 13.

The idea is to reach consumers where they are already talking about fashion, said Julie Channing, senior account director with The Gap’s digital agency, AKQA.

“We were really looking to reach out to fashionistas and influence audiences and even skeptics of The Gap to start a conversation about how Gap has built this line of denim from the ground up,” she said. They wanted to “lend credibility to the story.”

The Facebook page acts as the centerpiece for the online campaign, where viewers can watch a video of Rada Shadick, Gap’s “fit engineer,” explaining the development of the new denim line, called “1969” (named after the year The Gap was founded), and see which fit might work for them. Users can also upload photos and videos featuring their own “born to” statement and click through to Gap.com to make purchases.

The “Born to Fit” angle factors heavily in the campaign’s display ads, as well. AKQA crafted custom banner ads for several different blog partners saying what each was born to do. For example, the ads on Glam.com say “Born to Set Trends,” and the ads on PopSugar say “Born to Strategize.” Other blog partners include Mashable, Thrillist and Idolator. The customs ads ran on the first day of the campaign and will run again on Monday, August 17.

For the iPhone, AKQA created an app called the StyleMixer that lets users mix and match outfits and interact with friends on The Gap’s Facebook page. The app will also reveal undisclosed “surprises” when near a Gap store.

Channing said The Gap had set no numerical benchmarks to determine success in the campaign, but rather would look at “how much consumers interact with the brand” to gauge ROI.

The Gap, which has seen a steady decrease in same-store sales for the past two years, has scaled back ad spending recently in order to focus on product development. Gap president Marka Hansen told Fortune this latest campaign represents a “medium size” increase in its ad budget for the year.

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