FROM A CONSUMER’S PERSPECTIVE
In Lebanese consumers’ minds, GAP is a well-established global brand, and is well appreciated. However, this communication brings us to reevaluate our attitude toward the brand with a redefinition of its core values. According to the Hierarchy of Effect Model, the campaign appeals to our affective stage in which we are brought to prefer GAP’S products over competitors’, and somehow relate to GAP’S values instead of those of competitors’. But how exactly do we, consumers, interpret these communicated values?
The campaign is communicated through print ads and short videos and found on digital platforms and in stores in Lebanon and globally.
The in store billboards, also available on social media, represent celebrities doing every day “normal” things, such as drinking coffee, staring at their fridge, getting dressed, or waiting by someone’s car, along with the ‘Dress Normal” slogan. These visuals bring us to identify ourselves to the publicised characters with regard to the tasks they’re doing. Although familiar faces doing everyday tasks might help establishing common ground and lead customers to identify to the brand, as soon as the “Dress Normal” slogan is seen, we start wondering what they mean by it. Do they want us to blend into the mass and all be dressed the same way? Do they mean that other brands entail eccentric and strange styles? In fact, many interpretations were developed from this slogan, and created confusion. In a society where fashion is used to express one’s style, GAP is telling us to dress “normal”. At least, this is what most audiences have understood from the new campaign. The word “normal” itself is a source of misinterpretation. It rarely communicates the connotation the brands expects. Instead of being understood as simple and usual, many of us can interpret it as ordinary and lame - and nobody wants to be perceived or associated to it.
In Lebanon, GAP is considered as an esteemed brand that many Lebanese consumers have been buying from abroad. Even though the brand is now available in Beirut, it is still well appreciated and perceived as the trendy American-style, with slightly aboveaverage priced offerings. In addition, the Lebanese society is known for its tendency to show off, and flaunt the trendy new items they purchased abroad. Therefore implementing this image of “ordinary” does not seem consistent with the Lebanese audience, so they might not relate to this value that is being communicated, and might even create confusion.
As for the series of four short videos that are also available on digital platforms, each one of them had a different plot and setting, but all consisted of a group of young people doing certain actions like kissing, dancing or playing golf. Towards the end of the videos, quotes such as “the uniform of rebellion and conformity” or those mentioned earlier, as well as the campaign’s “Dress Normal” slogan were appeared. At first glance, consumers do not quite relate the content of the
video to the quote and slogan. It is after watching all four videos consecutively that one can come up with the common theme of expressing one’s personality and most authentic self through acts rather than clothes. The supports used in the campaign were seen as frustrating, since around 90 percent of the global consumers did not understand the message correctly or, did not interpret in the right way.