Mood Swing

Gone are the identically clad twentysomethings and the precision choreography. In Modernista!’s first work for the Gap, individualism and emotion take center stage.

Four 30-second TV spots broke last month in time for the holidays, and feature different themes and evoke distinct moods—the anticipation of a kiss, the celebration at a holiday party, the weight lessness of a fluttering snow flake and the whimsy of a snowball fight.

The Boston agency, which is working with the Gap on a project basis, wanted the estimated $10-15 million campaign to build on the clothing retailer’s previous ads.

“We wanted to see how far we could push the Gap vibe without losing it,” says creative director/copywriter Lance Jensen. The agency also wanted to make the spots “more intimate than they have been, with a focus on people as individuals,” Jensen adds.

In “Snowflakes,” people float through space in different outfits as the words “Each one’s different” appear. Other ads feature the lines “Decorate yourself,” “Give and receive” and “Slow down.”

The concepts were not Gap’s first for this holiday season. A campaign created by its in-house team faltered earlier this year, mainly because it relied upon celebrity actors who were unavailable during the SAG/AFTRA strike, says one source. At the same time, the source says, Gap lost its in-house creative director, Jim Nevins, which led to the selection of Modernista!

The company declined to comment on the selection of the agency or the ditched campaign.

Bob Industries’ Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, whose credits include the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication” video, had been selected to direct the in-house spots, and were kept on board for the Modernista! effort. The agency’s creatives wrote the ads with Dayton and Faris in mind, says creative director/art director Gary Koepke.

“We knew where their talents lay,” says Jensen, who worked with the two on Volkswagen’s “Milky Way” spot while he was with Arnold Worldwide in Boston. “They’re a very technical director team and are very good with special effects.”

While this year’s ads feature simple ideas, smaller casts and a less theatrical atmosphere, creating the visual effects was a challenge. “Lightbulb,” for instance, used a gimbaled room that was spun around to give the impression of people dancing on the walls and the ceiling, says T.K. Knowles, executive producer for Bob Industries. The final image reveals that the party is going on inside a blue holiday lightbulb. For “Snowflake,” the actors were suspended from the ceiling by wires attached to their waists and shot against a green screen.

Casting for “Kiss” was the most difficult, even though it only called for two people. “We needed a very particular chemistry,” Dayton says. In the spot, a young couple slowly approach each other. As the anticipation builds and their lips touch, a beam of light shines from where their hearts meet and fans out across the screen.

Music was chosen from different recording artists to complete the mood of each ad. “Snowflake” features the Red House Painters’ “All Mixed Up.” In “Slow Down,” the slow-motion snowball fight unfolds to a slow version of Low’s “Little Drummer Boy.” “Kiss” features “The Shining” by Badly Drawn Boy, and “Lightbulb” uses The Dandy Warhols’ “Boys Better.”

It remains to be seen if Modernista! will work on future Gap ads. “At this point, it’s a holiday project,” says Gap spokeswoman Anna Lonergan. “We had a great time working with them, but we haven’t decided on future plans.”





Lance Jensen

CD/Art Director

Gary Koepke

In-house Producers

Leigh Donaldson

Tiffany Richtor


Jonathan Dayton

Valerie Faris/

Bob Industries

Visual Effects

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