Dive Brief:

  • Old Navy is taking a fresh approach to its back-to-school marketing messaging this year with a “Hi, Fashion” campaign that focuses on emotional appeal rather than the presence of big celebrity ambassadors, according to a report in Ad Age. The change it a bit of an about-face for a brand that has recently run advertising campaigns that prominently feature Hollywood stars such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Elizabeth Banks and Amy Schumer. 
  • The move aims to connect with target consumers by better aligning Old Navy’s marketing strategy with its personality sans celebrities. The goal could also be to spark joy for the otherwise joyless experience of discount shopping — something that can be achieved without star power, one source speculated to Ad Age. 
  • The brand’s back-to-school spots will run longer this year than in the past in light of changing school schedules around the U.S. Ad Age reported that Old Navy will also air a series of digital musical videos produced with Pharrell Williams’ I Am Other creative collective as part of the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Dive Insight:

Old Navy isn’t the first retailer to experience celebrity fatigue in advertising, as the high rates for stars don’t always translate to sales or connect where it counts. Many brands are looking to instead capture the interest of younger demographics by leaning into marketing that focuses on down-to-earth authenticity, through social media tactics like micro-influencers and also by putting more weight in messaging that appeals to emotion.

For Old Navy, that means producing light and relatable video ads that showcase its apparel over the big names wearing it. While Hi, Fashion has a strong traditional TV element, Old Navy is also emphasizing digital video and movie theater ads, Ad Age said. 

Financial data suggest that this strategy is working. The most recent earnings report from Old Navy for the quarter ending April 29 included two months of the celebrity-free strategy and showed an 8% increase in same-store sales, Ad Age reported. 

Not only do non-celebrities typically come with a lower price tag than professional models or top-tier influencers do, they’re often trusted more. Nearly one-third (30%) of consumers are more likely to purchase a product endorsed by a non-celebrity, according to a report by marketing firm Collective Bias. Among that group, 70% of millennials strongly preferred “peer” endorsements.

Source: Google News