Richards Gives Gadzooks ‘Girl Tools’

DALLAS The Richards Group’s first major campaign for Gadzooks incorporates objects that represent a girl’s many moods to promote the retailer’s new all-female selection of clothing.

In the print effort that breaks in the August issue of Teen Vogue, one page shows an object created to represent a girl’s mood, with the line “As (blank) as you want to be.” On the opposite side, a girl stands in Gadzooks fashions under the logo and new tag of “Girl tools.” One print ad features a chocolate-covered cherry on one side, and a girl dressed as a proper schoolgirl on the other.

Richards group creative director Lynda Hodge said the items, the “blank” in the copy, and the girl’s expression are meant to be interpreted in a number of ways. “With the chocolate-covered cherry, it could be as sweet as you want, but maybe you don’t really want to be sweet. And the eyes also say, ‘Maybe I’m not as sweet as you think I am.'” She added, “We actually started out in the campaign filling in the blank and thought it was more interesting and fun to let them fill in the blank.”

Hodges said the strategy evolved from research the shop did with girls in Gadzook’s target demographic of 16-22 that showed the segment likes exploring different personas, such as being athletic, feminine and aggressive. “They had no problem with being wrapped up in one personality, and from day to day the way they dress varies widely because of that,” she said. “We thought that was a strong and interesting thing and decided to pull that out and make it part of the direction.”

Other print ads feature a dinosaur and a model in a military look, a flower and a model in a sexy shirt, and a firecracker matched by a girl in what client president and chief merchandising officer Paula Masters called “rocker chic.” Ads from the independent Dallas shop will also run in the September issues of Seventeen, Teen People, Lucky, ELLEgirl and YM.

Masters said the campaign will help Gadzooks stand out in a crowded field and will introduce the company’s new direction. “There’s no way you can’t stop and look at it and say, ‘Whose ad is this?'” Masters said. “We really needed to get out there and get girls’ attention and say we’re significantly different from what we were.”

The Carrollton, Texas-based company, which has 424 stores in 41 states, decided to stop selling boys clothes earlier this year and to offer a deeper selection of shoes, perfumes, cosmetics and accessories. It also has eliminated brands that “speak to extremists,” Masters said, and is reaching out to an older audience (14- to 18-year-olds used to be the target).

Since being hired in January, The Richards Group has launched two in-store teaser campaigns for the client. The first, which broke in April, presented an “Anti-equality” theme. The June effort featured the phallic imagery of lipstick tubes and perfume bottles to visualize the theme of replacing men with items like jewelry and cosmetics.

The ad budget is undisclosed, though Masters said the company is “definitely spending more than we’re used to spending.” The company spent only $1 million on advertising last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.