Ad Rant: The Gap, “Go Ho Ho”

November 20, 2009
By | 1 Comment

Because nobody watches commercials anymore, Antenna keeps track of what you may have missed while pushing those three triangles rightward.

The Gap has long had a knack for exploiting cultural detritus and ruining things you love. To wit:

Hey confused Xers and bored boomers, looking for attire to impress everyone else at the community center as you embarrassingly dally in a faux-fad? No? What if we sold it to you with egregious bullet-time shots? People like that sort of thing in 1998, yeah? Nice.

Hey most influential electronic musicians of the decade, want a shitload of money? Yeah? Ok if we let The Other Sister stiffly gyrate in front of you? Sweet.

There’s nothing really noteworthy about The Gap’s latest campaign, other than that it’s presently on television often. All your favorite warmed-over cultural touchpoints are there. The drum-machine. The not-so-coincidental Glee vibe. The flannel, dear God, the flannel.

There’s even a manufactured controversy. In between grooming pundits for various cable news appearances and supportin’ everyone’s favorite hockey mom, the American Family Association found time to launch a boycott of The Gap because of the ad’s shocking, SHOCKING tagline, “Happy do whatever you wannukah.” (What scamps!) Maybe it’s because I’ve seen this ad so many times admist the deluge of Sarah Palin coverage, but it seems there’s some basis for comparison there. On Wednesday, Jon Stewart asserted that we shouldn’t hate Palin because she’s a gerund-defying dolt, but because she’s a walkin’/talkin’ simulacrum, “a conservative boilerplate madlib…delivered as though it were the hard-earned wisdom of a life well-lived.” Gap holiday ads serve a similar function, passing off the discourses of Christmas consumerism as cheeky omnireligiousness. Look, I’m not trying to be cynical. I rocked the hell out of those khakis in my Dawson Leery phase. Just don’t be surprised if, the next time you stop by a Republic of Gap Navy, the store employees have been replaced by smart-alecky mannequins adorned in garish woolen garb. Sounds crazy, I know, but this is a crazy time of year.


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One Response to “ Ad Rant: The Gap, “Go Ho Ho” ”

  1. Lindsay H. Garrison on November 21, 2009 at 12:33 PM

    Nice post, Nick. I love the ‘weekly ad rant’ gig.

    I don’t mind the GAP ads so much. I don’t especially like them, but of all the ads that hit me in a day, I guess they’re just kind of ‘meh’ (which matches the GAP brand in general?). Maybe it’s their simple aesthetic – the white background, the steady wide shot, etc.

    You gave a nod to the GAP, Inc. spots that I *really* hate – the Old Navy ‘supermodelquin’ campaign.

    The ‘midtown gown’ spot where the ‘mom’ mannequin gets her dress ripped off?

    The ‘town gown spot where they rip their fingers off?

    Not only are the talking mannequins creepy and weird, but the running gags of detachable body parts (I can get a new finger! This is just my old leg! I have a spare pare of legs in the back!) – while maybe trying to be campy, ironic(?), and self-referential – hits me as a little troubling.