Contemporary Dancers Show a Younger Side of Banana Republic

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In Banana Republic’s holiday campaign, not a single word is spoken. Instead, the clothing brand attempts to relay the magic of the season through a series of whimsical dance vignettes.

The spot is the centerpiece of the Gap Inc.-owned brand’s holiday push and will run on Hulu, YouTube, Vevo and other video platforms, as well as in print across publishers including GQ, InStyle and Travel + Leisure. It will not run on traditional TV channels.

The holiday campaign comes as Banana Republic continues to face a sales slump: Same-store sales were down 3% year-over-year during both the first and second quarters of 2019.

According to Len Peltier, vice president and creative director at Banana Republic, the hope is that the film’s playful, almost childlike look and feel will resonate with an audience that’s slightly younger than the brand is used to.

“We’re definitely trying to get to a younger demographic,” Peltier said. “We have amazing stuff that has the impression of being a little older than it is. It’s really about how you wear it, not necessarily your age.”

The spot, which was created in-house, was choreographed by Celia Rowlson-Hall, who has lent her talents to the Gap, Alicia Keys, HBO’s Girls and Vogue throughout her career. It features a cast of dancers that includes Jon Boogz, Nataliya Bulycheva, Nardia BooDoo, Yiannis Logothetis, Ron Myles, Marie Louwes, Gregg Aldana and Nico Mark Brown, all sporting Banana Republic’s winter line.

“There’s an incredible range of product messaging in there,” said Mary Alderete, chief marketing officer of Banana Republic. “While it might have this overall emotional feel, we’re selling party dresses, sweaters, outerwear [and] suiting for him and for her.”

The effort marks the latest piece of work to come out of Banana Republic’s in-house agency, which was formed in earnest about two years ago when Peltier and Alderete joined the company. According to Alderete, the two were brought in to help “transform people’s perceptions” of what Banana Republic stands for and what it sells.

While Banana Republic has worked with a number of agencies in recent years, including Chandelier Creative, the company has made an effort to consolidate creative capabilities in-house as of late.

“Basically, any asset you see out there is created by our team,” Alderete said.

She explained that the decision to build a creative team internally in part stemmed from the increasingly fragmented media landscape.

“We can’t survive off of one big blockbuster campaign,” she said. “The media landscape is so fragmented now, and consumers are devouring content, especially if they’re highly engaged in your brand.”

The brand still works with a number of agencies on the media side, including SocialCode, PMG and PHD. And even as it continues to consolidate creative work in-house, Alderete said the brand is not “anti-agency,” as it taps various shops depending on needs. For instance, last year it worked with R/GA on a campaign to promote the collection that NBA star Kevin Love designed for Banana Republic.

“Staying connected to all of that talent is important,” she added, “because you never know what lever you’re going to pull.”

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