Spike Jonze & the Vanishing Middle

The important thing is we all have that Barton Fink feeling, but since you’re Barton Fink I’m assuming you have it in spades.
– from Barton Fink (1991)

I love the new Spike Jonze ad for Gap (“Pardon our Dust”). Its slow-building and lusty destruction of a Gap store is kinetic, irreverent, surprising, and fun, projecting precisely the sort of subversive “let’s blow up the joint” attitude that one imagines Gap must feel right now about its broken business. (And my kids love it too. The four-year-old made me watch it seven times, suggesting that this ad would do very well repurposed for Toys ‘r Us.)

So, will it work? I don’t think so. While Spike Jonze captures nicely what he was undoubtedly told by Gap’s marketing braintrust — We’re changing everything! — and Jonze himself is the sort of counterculture-savvy guy that would almost certainly come to mind right away, the problems are deeper than having Gap management jam the media with a “Spike Jonze feeling” ad, even if it’s one done by Spike Jonze himself.

Gap’s fundamental problem? As I have written here before, Gap is trapped in the vanishing middle, and short of moving in either direction it’s increasing difficult to imagine what a cosmetic makeover, however enthusiastic, is going to accomplish.

[via Robot Wisdom]

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  1. Goring Gap, & the Vanishing Middle Market, Part II
  2. Robert Jordan, Arc’Teryx & the Vanishing Middle Market
  3. The Trouble with Venture Partnerships