Spring Fling

Offering respite from a dreary winter, Gap and Modernista! play up the lighter side of life. With its second campaign in six months for the clothing chain, the Boston agency attempts to stage nothing less than a “Celebration of Spring” in flirtatious, light-drenched, fashion-conscious ads that begin breaking worldwide today.

The television, print and outdoor campaign—which is estimated to be a $15-20 million effort—seeks to evoke feelings that spring brings, such as energy, alertness and revitalization. It targets men and women aged 20-30, the “sweet spot being 27,” according to Mike Densmore, director of client services at Modernista!

About five TV spots, expected to break Thursday, feature well-known musicians singing their own renditions of the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Spots simply state, “Spring is here. Gap.”

Unlike Modernista!’s Gap holiday spots, which focused on relaxation, slowing down and enjoying the season, the new ads are about energy, motion and—most importantly—emotion.

“[The new work] has a different feel than winter spots,” says Densmore. “We were trying to evoke the feeling of spring and that people are excited about it. [The ads] have a lot of energy.”

The Gap chose Modernista! over its in-house team because they are “always looking for new and different ways of doing things,” says Rebecca Weill, a spokesperson at Gap headquarters in San Francisco.

The ads focus on “what the clothes feel like, [such as] the first nice spring day, when you’re noticing people again and flirting,” explains Lance Jensen, Modernista!’s co-founder and creative director/copywriter for the project.

Print executions that break today show male and female models romping and playing against a white background. At the top of each ad appears a single word, such as: “play,” “soak” and “closer.” The fashion focus is polo shirts.

“The ads are springlike and very beautiful. They’re not about tricky headlines,” says Jensen.

“The words [in the ads] were meant to be fun and irreverent,” says Weill. “The ads are very true to the Gap aesthetic—they’re clean, fresh and modern, with a slightly sexy appeal and a fresh, different approach for spring.”

Images were kept “light, airy and done in blues and greens,” adds Gary Koepke, co-founder of Modernista! and cd/art director.

In order to give the ads a realistic feel, five out of the seven models used were recruited off the streets by a talent agency in New York.

“The Gap needed to be able to express themselves beyond a catalog-type shoot,” says Koepke. “We wanted to bring the consumer closer to the person they’re looking at. We tried to create scenarios that showed interaction—some situations were tense, some were happy.”

Koepke feels that Modernista!’s new print work makes “more of a connection with the consumer” than in the past.

“Clothing in [previous] ads was shown too perfectly,” says Koepke. “We wanted to convey the feeling that you can go into the Gap and come out an individual.”

Print executions will run in April and May issues of Vogue, InStyle, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Jane, Mademoiselle, Vanity Fair, Men’s Health, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, GQ and Vibe.

While the Gap’s own creatives crafted its upcoming Baby Gap campaign, it again tapped Modernista! for a fall campaign. According to Weill, the relationship between client and agency remains on a season-by-season basis.