The Gap hunts for US AOR to move forward from fashion

SAN FRANCISCO: Clothing retailer The Gap has launched a US AOR search to help the ubiquitous brand move beyond its fashion focus.

SAN FRANCISCO: Clothing retailer The Gap has launched a US AOR search to help the ubiquitous brand move beyond its fashion focus.

The review only involves The Gap, and not parent company Gap Inc., nor its sister brands, which include Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Forth & Towne.

Select Resources International (SRI) is handling the search. Senior partner Dan Orsborn, who is managing the review, said the incumbent, New York-based KCD Worldwide, isn't participating in the process.

"The Gap feels [it has] gotten great results with KCD," said Orsborn. "But The Gap wants a more strategic, broader scope."

The Gap wants to go beyond having its PR be primarily fashion-focused and to be seen more as a lifestyle brand, said Orsborn. The account will include all of The Gap's brands, including Gap Body and Baby Gap.

Orsborn declined to divulge the account's size and said that The Gap would not comment on the review, which should be finished by December.

"The focus of this search is broader than our firm's expertise of fashion, which was The Gap's primary objective when we were hired two years ago," said KCD president Ed Filipowski, in an e-mail. KCD may still work on select projects.

In August, Gap lowered its earnings estimate for the year after lackluster summer sales and not much hope for a better fall. At the time, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that "the company's Gap division showed particular weakness in sales of women's clothing." Same-store sales for The Gap fell 4% in the quarter, compared with a 1% gain last year. The company expressed disappointment that not only did it not see the anticipated uptick in August - a good indicator of future sales for the fall - but it also saw a downturn in foot traffic.

The eponymous brand is not the only one in the company to undergo changes in the past year. SRI oversaw the US AOR search last year for Old Navy, which switched from DeVries PR to Burson-Marsteller.

Old Navy is also looking for a new senior director of PR to replace Jonathan Finn, who joined Nickelodeon as VP of communications in August.

Forth & Towne, is currently handling PR in-house, but Gap Inc. is considering bringing on a PR head and agency next year.

Banana Republic still works with LaForce & Stevens, while the parent company works with Burson, Edelman, and Zeno Group, which was recently added to its agency roster.

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