Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Trey Laird has bagged another big account for his brand new ad agency: the troubled Gap stores.
Gap Inc. said Wednesday it has hired Laird + Partners, the new company founded by the former Donna Karan executive, as the new creative agency for its flagship chain.
Laird + Partners will work closely with Gap’s in-house marketing team on advertising, direct mail and in-store marketing for Gap, babyGap and Gap Kids worldwide.
As reported Wednesday, Laird resigned as as executive vice president, corporate creative director at Donna Karan International to set up his own agency. DKI is his first client. He opens his new agency with about 20 employees on Monday in temporary space at Karan headquarters.
Laird + Partners declined to reveal Gap’s billings, but CMR reported that last year the giant retailer shelled out $90 million in media expenditures. Sources peg Karan’s advertising budget in excess of $25 million.
Gap, mired in the worst financial performance in its three-decade history, came under sharp criticism for a series of marketing blunders last year, including nixing its successful TV ad campaigns.
In a statement Wednesday, Millard Drexler, president and chief executive officer of Gap Inc. and interim president of Gap brand’s U.S. business said, “Gap represents simple, classic, clean and confident style for everybody. Marketing is critical as we get our product right. Trey’s creativity and understanding of Gap brand will help us talk to our customers in new ways.”
Modernista, an ad agency in Boston, handled Gap’s advertising for the past 17 months, but was dropped several weeks ago. Earlier the Gap handled its advertising in-house. This marks the first time it has hired a New York ad agency.
New Gap TV commercials, directed by Lisa Prisco — the force behind many of the retailer’s most memorable TV campaigns, including “Khakis Swing” and “Everybody in Leathers” — are set to bow April 29.
Laird will begin immediately on developing the Gap’s fall campaign.
While at DKI, Laird handled all advertising, marketing, media, packaging, store design, visual display and creative branding for DKI and its licensees. Earlier, he was creative director for the Andrew Fezza brand at GFT, and before that worked five years at the Arnell Group, rising to senior vice president of marketing and creative development.

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