Déjà vu! When is it acceptable for retailers to repeat themselves?

This week, Banana Republic released a sneak peek of the upcoming advertisement for the summer collection featuring model Coco Rocha.  The collection is a collaboration of Trina Turk + Banana Republic, and I must say the ads look great!  Very summery, colorful, happy, and modern.

Instantly upon seeing these ads, my memory was jogged.  If I were an “average shopper” I probably wouldn’t have sussed this out – but as an ex-employee of Gap Inc, I noticed that the ads are incredibly reminiscent of the BR Summer ’04 campaign. Note the similarity!

Summer 2012 Campaign (images via The Cut fashion blog):
Banana-republic-summer-2012-ads

Summer 2004 Campaign (more images available on Lookbooks site):

Banana-republic-summer-2004-ad

I actually think this may be a smart move.  The brand has historical data and knows that campaign performed well and sales were strong that season.  Why completely re-invent the wheel every year?  Yes, the actual clothing styles change, but the general feeling, vibe, and emotion driven by the advertising campaign was likely a component of the success in summer ’04.  Taking aspects that worked and translating them from one season to the next seems quite savvy.

I’ve questioned in the past why brands don’t re-use various elements from season to season. Would an average shopper really remember the props used in window and in-store displays from year-to-year?   Probably not.  Yet stores go nuts spending both large sums of money and time reinventing the wheel!  I’m not saying to replicate every minute detail, but taking a general concept, leveraging elements from the past (specifically fixtures and props), and simply updating with the newer season’s clothing styles seems to make sense.

Until I worked for Gap Inc, I didn’t put much thought or truly realize the level of detail that went into every little aspect of the experience.  Each season, employees select store fixtures (tables, racks, shelving units, counters, floors), decor (frames, boxes, vases, flowers, etc), style mannequins, determine the way items are displayed on tables vs. racks (folded vs. hung), select props for in-store displays and windows, choose colors for paint and backdrops, create collateral (direct mailers, e-mail creative, cash-wrap pamphlets), generate store signage, and more — there are a ton of elements involved!  Each of these pieces is considered and scrutinized in detail, and the heads of the divisions make sure it all comes together as close to perfectly as possible.  With each new collection comes anticipation – much like a performance, efforts are taken to ensure the brand is ready to lift the curtain on opening night.

Maybe it’s just my perception, but Banana seems to have realized that when you have one successful performance, an encore doesn’t hurt.

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