Gap’s Bold Experiment

By Steve Scheidecker -- Get free updates of new posts here

Yesterday I made a bold hypothesis — What if Gap intentionally posted a bad logo to get publicity? With the number of company’s trying crowd-sourcing to come up with innovative ideas, I thought this could be what they were up to.  It turns out I was onto something… In a post to Gap’s Facebook wall they have asked customers to submit alternative design ideas.  Gap has not flat-out admitted that the new logo was a complete publicity stunt, but I think their post says it all.  Will this be the change that Gap needs to re-invent themselves or have they only added to their decent?

Reactions to this wall post have varied from positive to outrage, but nobody can argue that they garnered significant media exposure.  Whether that exposure will result in positive development of their brand is yet to be seen.  What’s my take?  I think Gap has executed this poorly and the online community feels as if they got fooled to build publicity, not that Gap actually cares about what people have to say.  In my original post, I thought they could be onto something brilliant but their execution has caused this thought to vanish from my mind.  It seems that Gap’s marketing team and/or agency read textbook cases of brands that have built loyalty through failed changes.

For example, many have cited Coca-Cola’s reaction to the release of a new blend of Coca-Cola that was negatively perceived by the market and the subsequent re-release of Coca-Cola Classic.  I cited Domino’s in my original post and how they reconstructed their pizza recipes based on feedback and public exposure of such actions. Another example that comes to mind is when the Iowa Hawkeyes implemented a new Tiger Hawk logo that was so heavily criticized that they reverted to their original.  The only point that they seemed to miss was that these companies were passionate about their changes and thought they were steps to move forward, none of these companies deliberately misled people to build publicity.  The actions taken were remedies not plans.

Gap has undertaken a very bold experiment.  Will a flawed design intentionally put forth into the public eye with the purpose of building publicity and crowd-sourced feedback work?  I think it is going to be devastating to their image among online users.  However, they may be able to get traditional media to ignore the real story (“How Gap faked a flaw to build publicity”) and spin it into “How Gap turned a flawed design into loyal customers.”  Its yet to see how this all plays out, how do you think people will react over the long-term?

3 Responses so far.

  1. Joe Winn says:

    Read the post where you predicted this, Steve. Now I’ve just finished reading about your prediction coming to fruition. Very impressive indeed. So let me be the first to congratulate you – congrats! Now, let me be the first to ask you for a favor:

    Who do you like in the Michigan-Michigan State game?

    And what about LSU-Florida?

    If you go 2-for-2, we’ll double down hard on NFL games Sunday and split the earnings 40-60. 40 to you for having this extraordinary talent. 60 to me for identifying an extraordinary means for exploiting it.

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