A Gap in (Advertising) Time

A few weeks back I read an article about the Gap eliminating its television advertising for the remaining months of 2008, and their plan to shift to “traditional and non-traditional” marketing tactics.

I will miss the Gap ads this holiday season. Remember the ones from a few years back where the models danced choreographed dances to festive holiday music? I loved those, and bought a few sweaters and pairs of mittens because of those catchy commercials.

So why the sudden turn from traditional advertising? The answer is simple: it is expensive to run television advertising consistently enough to reach your target audience effectively. Really, really expensive when you factor in paying an advertising agency to concept the commercial, make the commercial (and all that entails, from paying the models, stylists and photographers to scouting and paying for locations), to paying for the “spot” – the actual advertising air to run the ad during The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America and Grey’s Anatomy -- and any other show the Gap’s research reports its target market is watching.

So exactly what does “traditional and non-traditional” marketing tactics mean? Most likely they will be launching a full-scale publicity campaign, complete with publicity events with high-profile celebrities, giveaways -- and I’m keeping my eyes peeled towards the Oprah’s Favorite Things show. Whether or not they actual land one of those coveted spots remains to be seen, but they’re good marketers over at the Gap. And the smart marketers are pitching (and have been since July) their little hearts out to Ms. Winfrey’s producers.

While I’ll miss those fun commercials, I’m glad for the reminder for all of us small business owners. What reminder? That a giant advertising campaign isn’t necessary to launch an effective marketing campaign. And while smaller businesses are unlikely to hook a big-name celebrity to promote our products in the press, a few news releases can go a really long way toward building your brand in your community.

Let’s all stay tuned on who has the best holiday commercials this holiday season (my money is on Target. You?)

Happy Holiday Marketing!

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