Old Navy’s Winning YouTube Strategy: Being Funny

Photo: Courtesy of Old Navy.
Whether it’s collaborating with fashion-crowd favorites like Current/Elliott or crafting the perfect button-down, Old Navy has made a pointed effort to prove that it’s not your average mall brand. And, its latest marketing push may be its smartest yet — it’s slowly but surely finding success on YouTube.

Rather than going with straightforward commercials or even artsy fashion films, Old Navy's taken a more humorous approach over the past several months, posting video "outtakes" starring spokeswomen like Amy Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Using extra footage that didn't make it into the TV commercials, these uncut versions give the comedy stars more room to show off their signature off-kilter humor. For instance, in the outtake for "The New Boyfriend Goes To Couples Therapy" Louis-Dreyfus plays off the original (already funny) commercial with a more extreme version of her therapist character. While these bloopers might not work for the TV audience, they definitely have a home on the Internet. 
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Richard Christiansen, the founder and creative director of Chandelier (the agency behind Old Navy's YouTube campaigns) explained to Digiday, “Broadcast asks the commercials to do a lot of heavy lifting: include humor, urgency, and sell a product. On set, we would get great footage, and now [with the outtakes] we can continue the conversation and entertain people online, not just sell them stuff.”

This strategy not only garners video views, it's also amassed Old Navy more than 17,000 subscribers (by comparison, Digiday reports, Gap has 6,000, and Banana Republic only has 2,000). Allowing these funny women to be their hilarious, weird selves gives the ads a sense of authenticity. And, it makes interacting with brands online a bit more fun: We'll watch Amy Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus videos any day, regardless of whether we happen to be in the market for a new pair of boyfriend jeans. (Digiday
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