Arun Sudhaman 16 Jan 2012 // 12:00AM GMT
SAN FRANCISCO--Gap Inc, the clothing retailer behind such brands as Gap and Banana Republic, is seeking an agency to provide public relations counsel.
The Holmes Report understands that the company is seeking high-level corporate support, and has contacted a handful of US agencies for the brief.
The search is being led out of Gap Inc’s global HQ in San Francisco. Global external affairs senior director Louise Conroy-Callagy declined to comment on the process.
At a corporate level, Gap Inc has faced sustained scrutiny of its labor practices over the past two decades. The company has devoted considerable effort to addressing issues in its supply chain, particularly where child labor is concerned, and works with several industry initiatives to monitor its practices. Gap Inc’s 2010 sustainability report revealed that it had conducted 2,500 audits in over 1,200 facilities, and found that less than 15 percent of facilities achieve an ‘excellent’ rating, while almost 20 percent percent require action.
The company’s marketing strategy hit the headlines in 2010 when it was forced to reverse a logo change at Gap, because of a public backlash. A few months later, Marka Hansen left her role as North American president of the Gap brand, replaced by Art Peck. The brand also named Ogilvy as its new advertising agency, and hired sustainability specialist Seth Farbman from the firm as its first global CMO.
Gap Inc has five key brands: Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta. The company is considered the largest speciality apparel retailer in the US but has struggled in recent years, thanks to competition and economic conditions. It has announced plans to cut 20 percent of its stores in the country by 2013, instead focusing on expansion in China.