Why Banana Republic Is Running Its First TV Ad Campaign in 15 Years

With more eyes glued to televisions, the retailer saw a chance to reach a bigger audience

Apparel retailer Banana Republic is airing its first ads on television in 15 years. Banana Republic
Headshot of Richard Collings

The last time Banana Republic aired a seasonal ad campaign on national television back in 2005, George W. Bush was in the White House, New Orleans was decimated by Hurricane Katrina, and retail was largely thriving along with the broader economy during the years leading up to the financial crisis.

A lot has happened in those intervening 15 years, with the retail sector suffering the brunt of a series of unfortunate events.

Despite the challenges of this year alone, Banana Republic is realizing what many of its direct-to-consumer apparel competitors have—that there may be no better time to nationally broadcast ads than the present even as total linear television ad spend declines. Fittingly, the tagline for Banana Republic’s holiday campaign is “Love the Present.”

So why now?

“We have been doing a lot of work in terms of customer segmentation, as well as media mix modeling,” said Michael Janover, the brand’s head of marketing, in an email. “And through that analysis we identified an opportunity to layer in TV to drive incremental reach and frequency and ultimately incrementality to our current mix.”

“That, coupled with the unique situation that Covid has created in terms of media use, was the tipping point for us to include TV into our mix again this holiday,” he added.

Janover said the long hiatus was driven primarily by the success of its digital outreach and the “high barrier of entry in terms of creative production costs,” with the media mix evolving along with shifting media consumption and shopping behaviors.

Though Janover said that Banana Republic does not disclose data on television ad spend, he did say that the retailer has shifted its budget to prioritize television during this time to reach a wider audience.

The apparel merchant is also likely saving on production costs, as the ads were created entirely in-house with no outside agencies.

Since Banana Republic does not currently have a creative director, though, it did partner with Ben Segal, who formerly held the role at the company, Janover told Adweek. He added that Segal was familiar with the brand’s ethos and approach. In addition, Cass Bird served as photographer and director.

The “Love the Present” campaign launched on digital and via direct mail on Wednesday and will begin airing on national television Nov. 9 across networks including CBS and Bravo, among others, the company said in an announcement.

Banana Republic described the campaign as one that “celebrates love and underscores an appreciation for the here and now,” by capturing intimate moments of real-life families and couples, rather than using actors.

“In this unprecedented year, Holiday 2020 is an opportunity to refocus on what really matters—spending time with loved ones, creating new traditions and making the most of every moment, big or small,” Janover said in a statement.

“With shifting consumer shopping patterns, and more time spent at home than ever, it’s the right time to layer in national broadcast to extend our message to a wider audience and visually demonstrate the versatility of the assortment to the consumer,” he added, expanding further upon the idea behind the move.

In connection to the campaign, Banana Republic will broaden its partnership with Feeding America, which the brand began supporting in May with the sale of face masks, raising to date some $220,000. Banana Republic, a banner under parent Gap Inc., will also donate $35,000 to CARE, an organization that aims to reduce poverty and achieve greater social justice for women and girls around the world.

@RichCollings richard.collings@adweek.com Richard Collings is a retail reporter at Adweek.