Now Is the Winter of GAP’s Very Plaid Discontent

Really? That’s the hot new thing? Lumberjack chic?

By Drew Magary
|  Monday, Dec 7, 2009  |  Updated 11:02 AM PDT
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The Gap

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There was a time, now seemingly very long ago, when the GAP brand stood alongside the likes of Nike and Apple as heavyweights in the advertising world.

Remember: this is the company whose in-house ad agency showed off the use of bullet-time special effects, before the Wachowski Brothers supposedly introduced the technique for the “Matrix” films.

That was back in the late 90’s, a time when GAP had roughly 35,487 stores located in the continental US. My kitchen cabinet even had a GAP chain inside of it, stocked with 45 employees milling about and only one employee actually working the register.

Those days, of course, are long gone. This decade has seen a slip in GAP’s popularity. Approximately 30,000 of those old GAP stores eventually became Starbucks chains, and then became empty spaces for hoboes to sleep in. With that drop, both the company and its brand have suffered.

Well, this year the chain has stumbled down to a new nadir. I speak, of course, of the GAP carolers. Or cheerleaders. Or whatever the hell they are:

While GAP’s overall corporate sales have been improving (thanks largely to sister store Old Navy), their advertising has not. Oh man, those kids in plaid are brutal. It’s not that they are clearly a transparent ploy to cater to the “Glee” and “High School Musical” crowd. It’s that they do it so badly. Are those kids doing the robot? Are they voguing? Are they doing some unholy mix of the two? LOOK! MY ARM IS HANGING LIMPLY! Oh, man.

Then there’s the product they’re selling. This marks the tenth straight year that GAP has banked all their advertising on a certain color or style (rainbow scarves, anyone?), and guessed horribly wrong. Plaid? Really? That’s the hot new thing? Lumberjack chic? Are we all gonna get together this year and make pancakes? I’m not buying a plaid shirt for $45, not when I have 37 plaid shirts that I owned back in 1992 sitting comfortably in my attic.

These aren’t even the only company carolers I have to deal with on TV every week. Best Buy has awful carolers, too. This has to stop. Dear GAP, please justify your status as America’s top clothing retailer, by going back to making kickass ads with an unusually diverse and hip group of celebrities playing the tambourine or something. Then, maybe I’ll be able to buy a gift at your store that someone won’t end up returning.

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