Analysis of the Gap’s TV Commercials
Why are Gap ads so powerful? The concept of all of their recent television commercials is very simple, yet highly effective. An attractive young person, or perhaps a small group of attractive young people, is on a stark, white set. The actor/ model/ celebrity then sings and or dances around. The commercial ends with a catchy phrase about the Gap: Gap Rocks or Gap Swings, or something similar. It’s a simple concept, but somehow it works. What branding is about for this company is identifying through the elaborate cool-hunting market-research process what it is that the public cares about and are passionate about as a culture, and harnessing that to sell something very different. So it is, in a sense, a betrayal. The Gap's not selling music, they're selling clothing. By examining the institutions, sign systems, subject positions, and mediation used in the advertisements, perhaps an explanation to their success, and why the public allows itself to be duped, can be determined.
The Gap hit it big in April of 1997 with its first ad of the series, one for khakis. The ad, which featured about10 swing dancing couples (all, of course, wearing Gap Khakis), lasted 15 seconds. No one onscreen spoke at all. Quickly following this ad, was a second, equally effective commercial. In this ad, a dozen actors sat and took turns singing a line from Donavan’s famous hit, Mellow Yellow. These ads apparently spoke to people, because they received great results in the polls. To this initial popularity, of course, one can attribute the barrage of similar advertisements that plague today’s televisions. The campaign was very popular and very effective with adult consumers of all ages according to Ad Track, USA TODAY's exclusive poll. Almost a third of consumers gave the Gap Khakis campaign the highest possible marks for likability and effectiveness - that's about 10 percentage points higher than average. The campaign performed especially well among young consumers, their target audiences: 41% of respondents from the ages of 18 to 24 said they liked the ads a lot, and 45% called them "very effective." The ads struck the right chord with women: 36% of females judged them very effective, vs. 27% of males (Enrico).
One of the key factors that may contribute to the popularity of this commercial series is its approach to institutions. The advertisements are filmed against an empty, white set. The people on the screen are all dressed similarly, if not identically. The reality that they define is an absence of reality. For the characters in the commercials, there are no prescribed notions about life beyond the blank studio walls. The commercials flawlessly imply that anyone who envelops himself in clothing from the store instantly transcends all notions of the realistic constraints that others are forced to deal with. There are no businesses, families, schools, or offices for those in the commercials, the stars are free from all of...