Filling Interactive Gap

Gap Inc., traditionally one of the most agency-shy clients in the country, has started a national search for one or more agencies to help its Gap apparel chain with interactive and direct marketing.
A representative at Gap, San Francisco, which currently handles its advertising and Web site development in-house, confirmed the company is “looking for partners to expand its Web site and online store,” which was launched in November 1997.
“We are looking for [shops] primarily to support programming features or features of our Web site,” said Gap representative Rebecca Weill. Sources said the $6 billion company plans to spend over $20 million to expand its direct and interactive efforts, which it sees as way to strengthen its ties with customers.
Gap’s interactive strides thus far have included a Web site and the Gap Online Store, which sells a revolving inventory of merchandise 24 hours a day. Sources said other programs are being considered, from database marketing and loyalty programs to in-store kiosks. “This is about increasing sales in the short term and customer loyalty in the long term,” said one source.
Select Resources International, Los Angeles, is conducting the review, said sources, and has contacted about 10 shops in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco. The winner will be expected to work directly with Gap’s in-house interactive team and ad department, said sources.
Weill said the search is limited to the 900-store Gap chain and does not include the company’s Old Navy and Banana Republic chains. However, sources said executives from Old Navy, a 300-store discount chain, have also been talking informally with shops about building its own Web site and possibly handling some creative work.
Gap has aggressively expanded ad efforts, recently returning to TV after a 12-year hiatus. The company spent $80 million on ads in 1997 and $55 million through May of this year, per Competitive Media Reporting.
–with staff report