Gap Teams With Leibovitz for Print

NEW YORK The Gap’s latest campaign, which reunites the clothier with photographer Annie Leibovitz, arrives as the San Francisco company, long struggling with sluggish sales, names a new chief executive.

Seeking a boost, the work by Laird + Partners features black-and-white Leibovitz photos of celebrities, both world-famous and relatively obscure, showing off the company’s fall line.

“They’ve never done a range of classic items that have been updated,” said Trey Laird, president and ecd of the New York independent agency. “You could take something as simple as a sweater vest, but when you see it on John Mayer it’s fresh and new.”

Gap last week appointed Glenn Murphy CEO. He was previously chairman and CEO of Canada’s Shoppers Drug Mart. Murphy, who does not have retail clothing experience, replaced Robert Fisher, who had been interim CEO since January.

Gap’s latest monthly sales numbers for June show a drop of 4 percent, continuing a trend it has been unable to reverse in recent years.

The campaign is running in September magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Lucky, Interview, GQ and Dwell, and began breaking this week. In addition there is in-store, online, outdoor and direct mail. Leibovitz previously shot the Gap’s (Product) Red campaign, which also featured celebrities. Spending was undisclosed.

“We wanted a fresh take on the classics,” said Jacquie Lenart, Gap’s vp, marketing. “We want to reinvent classics that are true to the Gap heritage with strong cultural heritage and wanted to focus as much on product as well as person.”

The company expects to “refresh” the effort in mid-October. “The campaign now is centered around people and products,” said Lenart. “We will refresh it to be more around people.”

While many of the people pictured in the ads are well known—such as guitarist and singer Mayer, Forest Whitaker and Lucy Liu—others may prove to be less recognizable to the average shopper. Cases in point: Marcel Wanders, a Dutch industrial designer, and Puffy AmiYumi, a female Japanese singing duo.

“We’ll have some very well known people and some slightly less well known ones,” said Lenart. “Sarah Silverman is the sweet spot for us, in terms of age, and her sense of humor and her gravity.”

This is the first campaign from the company under new president Marka Hansen, who replaced Cynthia Harriss in February. “One of first things Marka said, is she wanted us to be focused on a consistent demographic,” said Lenart. “Our audience is around 24-34 with the sweet spot around 28.”