Banana Republic Makes Blogger Star of Spring Campaign

Gap Inc.’s Banana Republic isn’t just mailing its spring collection to fashion bloggers in hopes of glowing reviews. The modern work-wear brand is making one of them a star.

The brand’s “Love” campaign will feature the story of how Joy Cho, the author of fashion and lifestyle blog “Oh Joy,” met her husband and will recreate their first date with photos of the pair in Banana Republic items, Catherine Sadler, global chief marketing officer, said in a telephone interview.

“Our partnership with ‘Oh Joy’ begins what will evolve into an even more extensive digital content presence in 2013,” Sadler said. “Not only will we look to excite customers and connect with them through curated content in association with blogs like ‘Oh Joy,’ but we’re also excited about curating and pushing out our own content in the digital space.”

In the past year, Banana Republic has boosted sales by forming partnerships with a wide range of entities from Bon Appetit magazine and the “Mad Men” television show to designer Trina Turk, adding to a rebound across all of Gap’s brands in North America. With the spring campaign, the unit of San Francisco-based Gap will also collaborate with dating site, holding in-store events for members in eight cities, and engage with shoppers on Instagram and Twitter, Sadler said.

Web Presence

Cho’s website gets more than 190,000 unique visitors a month, according to Sadler, and she has more than 12 million followers on social-media website Pinterest. That compares with fewer than half a million at Banana Republic and brands including J. Crew and Anthropologie.

“We’re really interested in adding dimension to our conversation with our customer and telling deeper stories,” Sadler said. “That is very much a focus of 2013, to be able to engage with our customers at a deeper, more dimensional level, and to be able to create content that showcases our product.”

Banana Republic has seen North America same-store sales rise 5 percent in the 11 months through December after a 1 percent decline in the fiscal year ended January 2012. The unit brought in $2.63 billion in that period, or about 18 percent of Gap’s overall revenue. The company will report sales for January, the last month of this fiscal year, on Feb. 7.

Gap’s namesake brand has successfully partnered with style blogs and YouTube stars to regain its foothold in North America in the past year. Gap Chief Executive Officer Glenn Murphy lauded the namesake brand’s digital efforts in the company’s August earnings call, saying that it has been “very effective” and “a great medium” for the company.

Gap fell 1.2 percent to $32.59 at the close in New York. The shares rallied 67 percent last year, following a 16 percent decline in 2011.