Mr. T and Old Navy Best-Tees are Besties, Fool

God, I miss the 80s.

The fashion. The music. The neon. So much hairspray. So many laser-beam school portrait backgrounds.

Ah, the Punky Brewster-ness of it all.

Now that you’re aware of my unabashed love for the most tubular decade ever, you can imagine my delight at seeing Mr. T as the new spokesperson for Old Navy—wait for it—tees!

Yes, everyone’s favorite mohawked gold-chain enthusiast is here to save us all from sporting uncomfortable, boxy T-shirts. In the words of B.A. Baracus himself: “I sympathize with the fool who wears a scratchy tee.”

The spot getting the most buzz features an infomercial spoof with Anna Faris, who admits that she was a “real dillweed” before Old Navy’s reinvented Best-Tees changed her life:

http://youtu.be/fTWTl-6qSSE

Mr. T and Ms. Faris are perfect fits (OK, at first the pun was totally unintentional, but then I decided to leave it in) for Old Navy’s signature quirky ad style and the brand’s current “Funnovations Inc.” campaign. More importantly, these ads seem to address very directly—and effectively—the issues that Old Navy was called to task for in 2011 after a disappointing first half.

Last August, Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO of Gap Inc. (which comprises the Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta brands), noted in the company’s second quarter earnings call that while he was pleased with Old Navy’s latest, improved product offerings, recent marketing efforts—namely the “Old Navy Records” campaign—hadn’t been as effective as everyone had hoped.

“The message, while people thought it was good and they remembered it, it wasn’t anywhere near the call to action needed to get somebody into the car and make a trip to Old Navy,” Murphy observed. “I’m disappointed in the leadership that we’ve been unable to get enough people and the customers we target to come in and see what [our chief creative officer] has actually put into the store.”

Nancy Reagan and Mr. T. For real.

With all that in mind, I found myself becoming an even bigger fan of the Mr. T spots as I watched them on YouTube. Using humor, these ads focus heavily on the attributes of Old Navy’s latest product and handily convey that these tees are a revamped version of a clothing classic, worthy of a second look. (Don’t you want to take a jaunt over to Old Navy today and feel a softness greater than baby chicks, kittens, and puppies on your skin?) Plus, these T-shirts are not only comfy, but they will flatter you in ways no ordinary, boxy tee ever could (thanks to the sculpting power of Mr. T’s trillion-and-a-half-dollar Best-Tee Machine). After all, just look at how they manage to complement the figures of everyone from models and actresses to fake doctors and big ol’ Mr. T himself! It’s fun for the whole family!!

At two minutes in length, the infomercial spot in particular is quite effective at driving these points home (over and over again) by disguising the whole thing as one giant parody. And, of course, Mr. T’s floating head gruffly instructing viewers to “Go to an Old Navy store, right now!” serves as a final—and awesomely appropriate—push for the call to action.

Frankly, I am PUMPED about going to Old Navy to check out a T-shirt. I mean, it’s just a T-shirt—the most basic item of clothing on the planet—but the visuals, jokes, and originality of the ads succeed in making me believe (or at least “strongly hope” enough to venture into a store) that this latest version of an Old Navy tee is actually different than the status quo and truly stands a chance of resolving the very real tragedy of ill-fitting T-shirts. (Seriously, folks, this problem has turned me into a dillweed on occasion—when you bring 20 items into the dressing room and only two fit, tempers flare.)

Sounds like this is exactly the kind of reaction Glenn Murphy is looking for, no?

3 thoughts on “Mr. T and Old Navy Best-Tees are Besties, Fool

  1. Old Navy is tapping into all of your “good feelings” for the era. So a cheap t-shirt isn’t a cheap t-shirt at all… or a commodity. The new ads are far more strategic because they now convert those “feelings” into “actions”… and “jibba jabba” into “sales.”

  2. A very impressive tactic of marketing and advertisement to the targeted Old Navy consumers…Ofcourse non the less using a great Icon like Mr. T to possibly increase sales of the sporty tees!! More to come stay tuned. Not under wording that they probably could have found a better candidate.

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