Why bore people into buying?

In a world saturated with same-same ‘Sale’ signs and percentage-off promotions, it’s great to see a big-box value retailer doing things a little differently. 

The new campaign from American family fashion value retailer Old Navy (part of Gap Inc.) still sells strongly – it pushes new-season product at a sharp price point – but does so in an ingenious, engaging and fun way.

Centred on music (and perhaps inspired by TV’s Glee), the campaign is called “Old Navy Records: Original hits. Original styles.”

Each commercial is like a mini video clip, with a highly-polished performance by a group of singers or dancers presented as if they were a new musical act. To date there’s been the Audio Threadz performing Super C.U.T.E. and Cherrie and the Stems with The Ankle Show, and it looks like the plan is to “release” a new song each week.

Each clip resolves with a product and price message around a Spring fashion look, eg: ankle jeans for $19.50. So far, so ho-hum, you might say. But where the campaign gets really clever is in its interactivity.

Old Navy has partnered with Shazam, the mobile-phone based music identification service. (If you haven’t heard of Shazam, it’s an app that allows people to quickly identify a song and artist, just by using their mobile phone to ‘listen’ to a piece of music.) When Old Navy customers “tag” one of the “hits” (by using Shazam to identify the song on TV, Facebook, YouTube or in store), they instantly unlock a load of content – you can “meet the band”, watch their music video, download the song, get style tips, or “rock the band’s look”. Follow the last link and you suddenly find yourself shopping Old Navy online, picking up a pair of jeans that featured in the video, down from $34.50 to $19.50.

The campaign is intended to target Old Navy’s archetypal customer, “Jennie”, a 25-35 year old woman looking for on-trend fashion for herself and her family. “Music is synonymous with fashion for Jennie,” said Amy Curtis-McIntyre, senior Vice President of Marketing at Old Navy. “What she listens to is as important as what she wears and we are always looking for new and culturally relevant ways to engage her.”

Whatever the campaign is, it certainly isn’t wallpaper, and that’s the point. Advertising legend David Ogilvy once said; “you can’t bore people into buying your product. You can only interest them into it.”

So instead of automatically going the sale or discount route, next time have a think about how you can present a value statement in a more interesting and engaging way.

Jon Bird is CEO of specialist retail marketing agency IdeaWorks (www.ideaworks.com.au). Email jon.bird@ideaworks.com.au. For more retail insights and inspiration, visit www.newretailblog.com.

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