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The Gap

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In the late-20th century rush to exploit image-conscious 16- to 24-year-olds, advertisers have settled on a fool-proof formula for successful tv commercials: hire some models, buy the rights to a top 40 pop single, and show your product being used by the models while the single plays. The Gap, however, has chosen to explode that paradigm with their new "Everybody in Cords" spot. They've attempted to expose the inner working of tv ads by...get this...hiring some models, buying the rights to some pop singles, and having the models SING the songs while wearing Gap clothing! Like playwright Samuel Beckett, they've presented us with an opportunity to examine the "artform" from a different perspective. Unlike Beckett, however, they're telling us something we already know without managing to be either entertaining or persuasive.

The Gap's whole stark-white-background thing reached its apex with the "Khaki..." series of tv spots. Combining super-talented musicians, dancers and skaters with great music on the trademark white was a stroke of genius: the visual isolation really let their natural energies shine through, and made for pleasantly entertaining 30 second snippets of television. The same cannot be said, however, of using prostrate street-life-poster-models for "Everybody in Cords." Here the all-white environment has the same isolating effect, but with different results - the models' lack of both talent and substance becomes painfully apparent. Combine that with a mannequin-like-lip-synch delivery of a bad cover of Donovan's "Mellow Yellow," and you've got...what? ironic commentary on The Gap's own approach to tv advertising? An attempt to break into the heroin-addict market? Either way, there's not much chance of moving any product with this dog, and any brand-awareness it fosters is not the kind they should be after.

Unfortunately for the retail giant, "Everybody in Cords" is not going to translate into "Everybody Buying Gap Clothing." The Gap's attempt at a final, self-referential twist on the cool-stuff-on-a-stark-white-background thing is an abject failure. What's the lesson they should take away from this? Be funny, be seductive, be entertaining, get that "wow" factor in there... but whatever you do, don't try and show us how smart you are. Fact is, we're smarter.

(Want to see this ad online? Check out the Ad Critic. Want more reviews of Gap commercials? Check out


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