When I was a child, my dream in life (after becoming a ballerina and/or a pastry chef) was to be a Gap model. It was my favorite store in the world. I owned two zip-up polar fleeces of identical design in different colors. Back to School shopping was paradise. So it deeply saddens me to state now what has become increasingly obvious with each passing year: Gap is a disaster.
Gap has been struggling for years, circling through various designers in an obvious attempt to get back some brand identity and return to their glory years. Their ad campaign "Dress Normal" didn't do it: it was panned almost across the board. The latest addition to Dress Normal is, as Fast Company reports, even more nonsensical: the company is debuting a short film series on Instagram starring Jenny Slate and Paul Dano that apparently other brands are going CRAZY over because these videos loop.
The Gap experience: it never ever ever ends.
"Get ready for a strange spring with @jennyslate and Paul Dano, in the weirdest love story ever Instagrammed. #SpringIsWeird. Follow the 12-episode film series and shop the spring looks you see at the link in our profile"
As Gap tries to explain:
The films build on Gap's recent history of partnering with acclaimed directors to tell stories that will relate to customers' lives. After creating more traditional, broadcast commercials with David Fincher and Sofia Coppola last year, the brand has partnered this season with 'maverick' directors The Daniels to create a purpose-built story for Instagram.
...the Micro-Series tracks the burgeoning romance between the love struck duo of Slate and Dano, as they navigate chance encounters, first dates and moody Spring weather in the hope of finding their perfect fit. As they grapple with what is real and what is digital "content," they begin to suspect that their lives may not be theirs alone. Viewers will need to stay tuned as each short film is released over the season to see the story unfold.
"In addition to Instagram and other digital platforms, the love story will be released on dating websites and apps," they add. Wow. What is real? What is love? Let's use this dating app to find our "perfect fit" in a human while also getting clothing marketed to us that is a "perfect fit." (Oh wait, let's not, because Tinder didn't approve it and this "guerrilla" marketing tactic is a bust.)
Just. Stop. This is "try hard" in action. I long for the days–that were not so long ago!–when Gap just called Annie Leibovitz up to shoot some basic black and white shots of a diverse group of musicians, artists, models, actors, etc. The message was simple: Here are some clothes. They will look as good on you as they do on these beautiful talented people. Buy them.
Contrast that to Gap's current strategy, which I, an occasionally professional reader, writer and editor, actually cannot follow:
"We are excited to further innovate our marketing approach and introduce a series that not only is inspired by social, but reflects its zeitgeist – where the lines between real and created events are increasingly blurring," said Tricia Nichols, Global Consumer Engagement and Partnerships for Gap. "In each episode, we bring to life those first days of Spring that can feel a bit surreal as our couple's real lives and Instagram lives start to merge into one. We think people will relate to the storyline, while also getting some help navigating the tricky territory of the perfect first-date outfit, especially when Spring's weather can be so unpredictable."
Reinvention is good. Being creative is good. This ad campaign (like Gap's recent wares) is neither.
Images via Annie Leibovitz/Gap