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Monday, October 13, 2008

Gap Hopes to Win Sales in Election

Gap Inc. is the latest marketer to try to profit from the presidential election.

As part of a campaign it will announce Wednesday, Gap's namesake chain and Web site will sell white T-shirts that say "Vote For _____" for $15 each and store windows will feature images of 70 real people who filled in the blanks on their T-shirts at Gap events over the summer.

Gap has also posted online (at Gap.com/votefor) videos of actresses and other famous people talking about how they would fill in the blank. Viewers at the site have a chance to send virtual "Vote For _" buttons to Facebook users.

Select Gap stores will sell limited-edition "Vote for ____" buttons designed by 10 artists, with $1 from each button purchase going to Declare Yourself, a nonpartisan group aimed at encouraging Americans to register to vote.

The campaign, Gap's first with an election theme, was developed in-house. It's part of the San Francisco retailer's effort to refocus on core customers in the 25 to 35 age range after trying unsuccessfully to skew younger.

"There is an enormous amount of enthusiasm and passion for this year's election" among people under 30, said Marka Hansen, president of Gap North America, who wouldn't disclose the cost of the campaign.

Other similar campaigns encouraging young people to vote have been launched by American Eagle Outfitters Inc., which this summer started selling "Vote" T-shirts, and Lucky Brand, which in late August partnered with Nickelodeon and Viacom to offer election-themed kids' T-shirts.

Marketers pursuing election themes has reached fever pitch this year, ramping up earlier than usual during the primary races.

"Younger target audiences are impassioned and involved at an unprecedented level and brands want to tap into that," said Mark DiMassimo, chief executive and creative director of New York advertising agency DiMassimo Goldstein.
—Jennifer Saranow