Deutsch Is a Scream for Old Navy

LOS ANGELES Following up on its first in-cinema ad campaign, Old Navy will break two back-to-school spots from Interpublic Group’s Deutsch/LA on MTV Networks starting Aug. 15 during Laguna Beach, the company said.

Both spots began an in-cinema run last Friday. Television runs through early September.

“We feel that combined with the micro site, the theater spots are a great, new innovative way,” said Emilie Nicks, manager of public relations for the San Francisco-based client. “We love the campaign because it really gets our teenage customers and it has the classic Old Navy wink.”

“Old Navy has a fabulous rep with moms and kids, so we’ve been tasked with strengthening the relationship with teens, who are both the most media savvy and cynical,” said Eric Hirshberg, managing partner and executive creative director at the Marina del Rey, Calif., agency. “They use fashion as pieces in an elaborate human collage to express who they are in the world. The Old Navy logo has to become part of that collage, and this is a much more emotional way of getting to their state of mind.”

Departing from Old Navy’s recent song-and-dance spots (some of which were created by independent StrawberryFrog, against whom Deutsch pitched for the back-to-school assignment), the ads parody movie genres. In “Locker Shocker,” a spoof of Jaws, a young man on a beach with his girlfriend decides to take a swim. A point-of-view shot from beneath the swimmer’s feet suggests an impending shark attack. His girlfriend and onlookers are aghast to see a school hallway locker pop up in the surf as the swimmer screams for help. “Old Navy” is written with shells on the beach as a tag.

“Desk ‘Till Dawn” parodies the teen-slasher genre, starting with a gathering around a campfire at night. One couple necking hears sounds from the woods. The attacker, a prototypical school desk/chair, chases and finally corners a terrorized teenage girl. “Old Navy” is carved into a tree to conclude the spot.

Both spots drive teens to an iDeutsch-created Web site (schooliscoming.com), where they can mix and match animated elements and write dialogue to create their own “horror flik” on crumpled notebook paper. Users can also sample “screamtones,” read Scare-o-Scopes and test theatrical sounds of panic on a downloadable Scream-o-Meter.

“What’s on kids’ minds is not ‘I’ve got to get my back-to-school wardrobe,’ but ‘Oh, crap, i’ve got to go back to school!’ This taps into that state of mind,” said Hirshberg. “So the teaser trailers get them to the site where they get a goody bag of stuff to take away, giving them a way to extend their experience with the brand. The crown jewel is the ability to make your own horror movie: Teens get to express themselves with the tools the brand provides, which becomes a metaphor for shopping at Old Navy.”

Associate creative directors Martin Dix, Ross Patrick, and Nate Morley led creative under Hirshberg. Senior vice president, creative director Josh Rose spearheaded development of the Web site.

Old Navy, a division of Gap Inc., San Francisco, spent $75 million advertising through June 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.