Sources in the production community reported that the Portland, Ore., shop was awarded a TV advertising assignment for a campaign that may amount to $15 million in an spending for the hip, but financially harried fashion retailer.
Though it enjoyed double-digit sales gains through 1991, like most fashion retailers the Gap was hit last year by a slowdown in consumer purchasing. That trend, coupled with some admitted fashion mistakes and competition from copycat manufacturers, led to a 12.4% profit decline for third quarter 1992 -- the company's first-ever profit downturn. For the full year 1992 earnings plummeted again to $211 million on sales of $3 billion. That compares with 1991 profits of $230 million on sales of $2.5 billion.
Executives at the Gap began quiet discussions with Wieden & Kennedy and Milton, Mass.-based Heater Easdon Advertising in May (ADWEEK, May 31). That more followed company executives' decision late last year to dump a TV campaign created in-house that they admitted hadn't worked.
Analysts said then that the much-maligned campaign, featuring an avante garde poet called Max Blagg in a $12-million TV blitz, was a step away from the kind of value-oriented message the company needed to drive sales in the '90s. What the Gap needed, the analysts said, was to find a way to differentiate itself without moving away from its roots as a retailer of basics with value.
The Gap between to move from that image in 1988, when it launched the 'Individuals of Style' print campaign. The ads drew a more upscale clientele and turned the company's basics into status symbols.
The retailer tried to continue in that vein when it launched the Blagg campaign, but while 'Individuals of Style' won critical acclaim and consumer recognition, its TV successor did not. Meanwhile, times and attitudes changed and the Gap soon seemed out of step.
Executives at the Gap and Wieden & Kennedy did not return calls.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)