Gap optimises marketing message through Twitter

US fashion retailer Gap returned to the TV in its home country this week with the latest part of its Back to Blue marketing campaign, but it is the company's innovative use of social media and online platforms that is gaining attention.

Gap launched two videos this week as part of its autumn promotional drive, with American singer and songwriter Alexa Ray Joel and English musician Dhani Harrison playing starring roles. As well as its first TV appearance in four years, the company leveraged various digital channels – most notably Twitter – to convey its message.

Last Friday (13 September), Gap began revealing audio content from both marketing spots through a retweet call-to-action. Once 500 people had retweeted a special link from @gap, the audio content and musicians' names were revealed.

After 1,000 people had retweeted a follow-up message from Gap yesterday, the full spots were revealed on Twitter ahead of their airing on US prime-time TV that evening.

Kristin Brewe, director of marketing & communications at the UK arm of the Internet Advertising Bureau, told Essential Retail that Gap's Back to Blue campaign is "a great example of brand-led, idea-centric advertising that's so important in reaching today's always-on consumer".

"Consumers prize creativity like Back to Blue that entertains and delights and they are much more likely to share content like this within their own communities, extending the reach of paid media," she explained.

"In staying true to the brand's values of authenticity and connecting that emotional value with great musical talent, Gap has created an idea that translates well across screens and media channels. This campaign is also a great example of a brand that understands the need to use social and mobile as the backbone of any campaign, particularly in terms of its use of Twitter as an engagement channel – something very likely to be accessed from the essential smartphone.

"Being able to execute a campaign across screens is particularly important in reaching today's consumer and it's especially important for retail brands that need to maintain top of mind awareness in a very cluttered landscape."

Gap has also used ad-targeting technology through Twitter's Promoted Tweets platform to connect with consumers who tweet about relevant TV shows where the retailer already advertises. All of this Twitter activity has enabled people in international territories to see the videos, through what Gap dubbed a "phantom TV network".

Seth Farbman, Gap's global chief marketing officer, commented: "The way people get their information and entertainment has materially and permanently changed. It's everywhere every minute of the day. 

"While TV still reaches many people at the same time, it's the power of social conversations that turn amazing video content from a commercial into an event. By leveraging a platform like Twitter, we're able to broaden and deepen the emotional power of Back to Blue, long after the spots have stopped airing on the networks."