Gap turns shopping on its head with clever PR stunt

I am a few months late on this, but Gap in Canada has created a very clever PR stunt to launch its new customer loyalty program Sprize (I am assuming this is meant to reference the word Surprise).

The loyalty program basically provides members with cashback instore credit if an item of clothing they buy is reduced 45 days after the purchase date. This means, if I buy a pair of jeans for $100 on 1 July and then Gap reduces those jeans on 1 August to $50, my Sprize account is credited with $50 of instore credit. The loyalty program is currently being trialled in ten stores in Canada. You can read more about it here if you like.

I really like this loyalty program because it makes a commitment to loyal customers by promising not to undercut the full price items they purchase. It also in effect gives members a 45 day leg up on everyday customers when the obvious sales periods approach.

However, it was the PR stunt that brought all of this to my attention.

The tagline for Sprize is turning shopping on its head, so what did Gap do to launch the scheme? They turned large chunks of the store upside down, hired actors to walk on their hands on what appears to be freezing ground and even flipped a couple of cars out the front. Pretty simple when you think about it, but as I have said before the best stunt typically are pretty simple.

gap Gap turns shopping on its head with clever PR stunt

What I wanted to call out in particular is the way that Gap approached this. Five years ago perhaps the stunt idea would have been the same, but the PR team would have relied solely on the media to create the awareness, but not today.

Gap created their own Youtube Channel and created their own content (the video above), which they have full control over, unlike the situation when you invite media to cover something. Further with the magic of Google and keywords when I searched ‘gap + turning shopping on its head’ it was the Gap made video – ahead of all other video news outlets, which was delivered.

Sadly however it appears Gap hasn’t done a good job of linking this content through its other online properties. Stangely it doesn’t appear to be posted on the Facebook Gap fanpage with more than 500,000 fans, nor is it present on the Gap Youtube channel (which also seems very underutilised). It is perhaps because of this poor integration with other online properties that the video only achieved 35,000 views. I suspect it is also this lack of integration why the other videos on the channel have such low views.

All in all an interesting campaign. The Sprize Loyalty Group is good and truly delivers on the promiose of rewarding loyalty, the PR stunt was simple and effective, the creation of the content video content at the top of this post was good and en effective length in my opinion, but it seems the syndication across Gap properties affected its viral results.

Perhaps Gap may have wanted to contain this, given it was such a small trial in Canada, but if that was the case why did they upload content at all to the web?

What do you reckon?

HT to Michael Litman and his Posterous – where I saw this.If you enjoyed this post why not subscribe to my blog via RSS or email by following this link. Also whilst you’re at it why not follow me on Twitter .

  • Guy Downes

    Hi Matt, thanks for sharing.

    And a great idea from Gap. Aside from the excellent stunt and turning heads, I think this idea works because it puts the customer first.

    Strip away the execution (upside down cars, YouTube channel, actors walking on hands) and the fact remains that they're 'committing to loyal customers by promising not to undercut the full price items they purchase'. It means customers get money back – and that always speaks volumes.

    It'd be interesting to see if 'word of mouth' had an effect on this campaign. If this came to Australia and I heard about, I definitely tell my wife when I got home, who'd tell her friends and so on.

    Cheers, Guy

  • matthewgain

    Hi mate,

    I agree completely. The fact the prodcut is good makes this all the more effective. Nothing like trying to PR a dog product/service…

    Yeah I expect word of mouth played a certain component, but 35,000 views on the video suggests to me that it could have been better. Not that 35,000 views is anything to be sneezed at. It is still a lot of viewers, but with a big global brand like Gap, I thought it could have been higher.

  • FrankG

    A policy that rewards fans & advocates, all supported by a conversational idea in retail. Great stuff.