business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

It has been widely reported that Gap is launching a new series of commercials, returning to television after four years with new commercials carrying the theme "Back to Blue." And it is doing so with a pair of short musical interludes -featuring Alexa Ray Joel and Dhani Harrison covering songs made famous by their fathers (Billy Joel and George Harrison).

While the campaign has not gotten universally positive reviews, I like it. In part, it's because Gap has a long history of using music cleverly in commercials, and I like the idea that this continues the tradition. But while some people say that seeing the adult children of the icons of their youth makes them feel old, I disagree - I actually think that the commercial connects the dots in a way that is in keeping with the brand's broader identity.

Gap, it seems to me, at its best seems to have one foot in the past and one on the future ... reinventing classic looks for young people. And that's what these commercials do ... the songs are familiar but restyled, while the performers remind us both of the good old days and the fact that those days are in the past. (Did the ads make me feel old? No. My knees remind me that I'm old.)

I also think that it is smart to offer a nod to the past. After all, those of us who listened to Billy Joel and George Harrison back in their primes now are in the position of shopping for our kids at Gap ... and so appealing to us isn't the dumbest idea in the world.

And finally, the commercials have managed to do something that Gap needs, especially in a time when it is faced with more competition than ever before. It's got us talking about the company. Also not the dumbest idea in the world.

So watch the commercial with Alexa Ray Joel at left. It is, in its own way, an Eye-Opener.

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