Thursday, October 14, 2010

A GAP In My Education -Or- New Media Trumps Old School

      The  Gap replaces it's familiar old logo and triggers a nasty reaction.  Apparently, a lot of Gap shoppers hate the new look.  Bowing to the public outcry- Gap brings back the original logo. 
Original Logo
Newly Deleted Logo
     It reminds me of the furor over "New" Coke. For those who don't remember: many years ago Coke replaced its original beverage with "New" Coke.  Coke drinkers went apoplectic.  There was a groundswell of negative publicity.  The fiasco ended with Coca Cola having to bring back "Old" Coke.  

    The Gap Flap features a decidedly new twist.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook played a role in Gap's decision to kill its new logo.  I just now checked Gap's Facebook page and it says 742,317 people are followers.  On the one hand I think that's 742,317 people with too much time on their hands.  On the other, I'm surprised the number isn't much bigger. Here's the post from Gap's top brass:

"Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowd sourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box..."

      For anyone who's wondering, crowdsourcing is the act of using a large group to collaborate on a project- in this case the Gap Logo makeover.  I'd say Gap (like a lot of companies) has learned the value of social media.  And this logo turnabout demonstrates some PR savvy.  More companies should listen to their customers.  So, Gap-goers are happy again.   The old logo is back.

     But wait- was this just part of a clever marketing campaign?  Gap sure got a lot of ink.  And as they say, any publicity is good publicity as long as they spell your name right.  And it's pretty hard to misspell G-A-P no matter what the logo looks like.  Personally, I doubt this logo uproar was the result of a premeditated PR campaign.  Very few marketing campaigns are intentionally designed to make customers unhappy.

     But some are.  Do you remember Sidd Finch?  In 1985 George Plimpton wrote an article for Sports Illustrated describing Finch- the Mets' amazing zen-master pitching-prospect.  Finch was a fireballer who's stuff was clocked at an unheard of 168 mph.  Baseball fans were stunned.  Baseball would never be the same.  But it was all a hoax.  An April Fools joke.  There was no Sidd Finch.  People were outraged.  Sports Illustrated received 2,000 letters from angry readers.  I just checked SI's web site.  There is no apology.  SI calls Sidd Finch, and I quote,  "the greatest stunt in SI history". Now that's PR. 

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