Brand: Old Navy
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Two teenagers cuddle on a beach. The boy announces he’s going for a swim. He paddles out and waves back to his girlfriend. We see his legs kicking through the green water from below. Then suddenly his girlfriend and other teens stand up and point to him, horrified. A yellow school locker pops up behind him and he races back to the beach, trying to avoid being overtaken by it. As it catches him the spot flashes the words ‘school is coming’ and cuts to the beach where we hear the girlfriend crying his name as we see the Old Navy brand name scrawled on the beach.
Old Navy has developed a specific, focused advertising vernacular – and this isn’t it. This spot will be remembered as much for the departure as anything else.
Okay, we get it. This ad is a parody of a horror film just as the classic Old Navy campaigns were somewhat a parody of our society. There’s a link there, we guess.
As entertainment, this spot is effective. It is succinct and the Jaws theme is distinct enough to grab attention.
This looks like more advertising designed to keep the agency and the brand team entertained without actually building the brand.
It is a good contrast to the Smith Barney ad we critiqued in our last spot. That ad ignored a decades long gap in advertising and created a bridge with a famous spot that consumers still remember (John Houseman). With this spot, Old Navy is doing exactly the opposite. Instead of the slightly loony, eccentric musicals that show us great values from a (seemingly) bygone era, Old Navy returns to Jaws.
The obvious flaws with this commercial are:
- Branding – since you cannot guess this is an Old Navy spot, it would make sense to ensure that the teens watching the spot might remember the brand. All we get here is two seconds of Old Navy scrawled on a beach.
- Positioning – School is horror in this spot. It is the worst thing that can happen to the summer. But is that true in Old Navy’s world? Or in the Old Navy universe, isn’t school the opportunity to wear cool new clothes (and burst into song). By showing the dark side, this commercial stands against the eternally optimistic brand positioning of the Old Navy brand.
- Execution – All we need to point out here is that Old Navy doesn’t save poor Jimmy from the evil locker and the spot ends with what looks like a grave marker (but is the Old Navy logo). This sends the wrong implicit message. Old Navy needs to be the savior, not the consolation prize for a summer’s end.
Beyond this Old Navy commits the capital crime of starting the long walk away from iconic commercials that have made it a part of the cultural landscape. They should think long and hard about Burger King before continuing down that path. It is fine to bring a new agency into the brand (Deutsch) but they have committed the unpardonable sin of fixing what was not broken.
Branding Bottom Line:
Old Navy makes a mess on the beach.