Gap’s Sweet Holiday Campaign Follows the Bond Between a Mother and Son

It's a departure from its typically cheery, dance-filled campaigns

A mother comforts her son in Gap holiday ad.
“We all have that hoodie that’s been truly ‘lived in,’” Omid Amidi, creative director at Johannes Leonardo, said. GAP
Headshot of Minda Smiley

They say it’s the thought that counts, and that’s what Gap has chosen to remind people of as the holiday shopping season kicks into gear.

In a departure from its typically cheery, dance-filled campaigns, the retailer’s latest effort takes a more understated, emotional approach. Created by Johannes Leonardo, the spot opens with a mom tearing the tag off of her son’s new Gap zip-up hoodie as he runs out the door to catch the bus.

The bright red hoodie quickly becomes a staple of his wardrobe throughout his teenage years, making appearances in school photos and around the neighborhood he skateboards in. It’s even worn by his high school girlfriend, who gives it back when they break up.

As the mom watches her son drive off to college, the hoodie hangs back, draped over a chair in his bedroom. Fast-forward to his adult years, and the hoodie once again shows up, this time as a Christmas gift from his mom.

“We all have that hoodie that’s been truly ‘lived in,’” Omid Amidi, creative director at Johannes Leonardo, said. “Whether it’s been stained, borrowed, whatever, it holds a treasure trove of memories. The Gap hoodie is one of those iconic pieces and products that has stood the test of time for the brand. So, we wanted to tell the loving story between two people—in this case, a mom and her son—through the eyes of a red Gap hoodie. The spot aims to tell the story of those intangible moments and touches on the cross-generational impact only a brand as timeless as Gap can make.”

The spot, directed by Park Pictures’ AG Rojas, marks one of the first pieces of work out of Johannes Leonardo, which won the Gap account earlier this year. It’s also the first holiday campaign under the direction of Alegra O’Hare, who was named chief marketing officer of the brand in February.

According to Amidi, Gap’s “Gift the Thought” campaign is about reframing “how people not only see the brand, but the product and the shopping experience.” As part of the campaign, shoppers who purchase gifts from the Gap this year can choose “thought-based gift tags” to go along with their presents (in the spot, the gift tag on the hoodie reads: “Because you’ve been there all along”).

The work will run across digital, social and streaming platforms starting in November.

@Minda_Smiley Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.