|Gap Sends Conflicting Messages This Holiday Season
By: Briskman Stanfield
Gap is at it once again, and I’m not talking about the company logo change problem. Brandweek and BrandChannel.com recently reported on a Gap campaign gone wrong. The company attempted to raise money for a charitable campaign by selling limited edition "made in USA" bags to help fight hunger (donating $5 to the nation’s lunch program for every bag sold), but it was discovered that one of the bags was actually made in China, with tags to prove it.
Obviously there was a big "gap"’ in the proofreading department, and it's turning out to be far from a little glitch. The entire charitable promotion concept with their stars and stripes USA feedbag was intended to support Gap’s anti-hunger FEED campaign (a charity co-founded by Lauren Bush, former President Bush's niece). Bush is also one of the featured celebrities in the Gap Want holiday campaign promoting their favorite charitable causes. The venture originated as a great idea, but Gap made a misstep by sending conflicting advertising messages that even turned off many Gap shoppers, making them less likely to purchase the bags.
It's sad to think than an altruistic venture that was proudly announced in the biggest retail season could turn into a dud that's barely able to get off the ground. In an effort to save the philanthropic effort, Gap has publicly claimed that the other two bags in the FEED USA collection (a canvas tote bag and limited edition one-of-a-kind Bandana Bag) are definitely both made in the USA. And, to be fair, the company has issued a strong apology, removed inaccurate store signage, and stopped selling the made-in-China denim bag.
Still, the apologies don't dismiss the fact that one of the cornerstone items of the "made in USA" campaign was manufactured in China. Why appeal to the patriotic spirit without backing the campaign with legitimate products? While it’s comforting to know the Gap took responsibility for this "oversight," it remains to be seen just how much damage this second snafu has done, especially given the tough economic climate and current attitudes about outsourcing. After the backlash over changing the company logo without customer input, this incident is an even bigger embarrassment for Gap during the busy shopping season.
The main message to Gap is that what's advertised as USA-made should come from the USA; if it doesn't, then the ad department needs to get it right.
Briskman Stanfield is a freelance copywriter and all-around, behind-the-scenes team player.
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