Gap looks to the very famous for new ads

SAN FRANCISCO - Gap has turned to Hollywood film directors and stars including 'Singles' and 'Almost Famous' director Cameron Crowe and 'Pearl Harbour's Kate Beckinsale for its latest television campaign, as it returns to basics to boost its flagging brand.

The summer campaign reflects the recent shift in Gap's strategy, which sees it return to the basic clothes with which it first found success, as part of an effort to reverse two years of decline.

As well as Crowe, Gap has managed to sign the Coen brothers and the up-and-coming Roman Coppola to direct its three new commercials, which debut in the US this weekend. The ads will also run in the UK and Canada. Each spot is set to two different 60s-inspired tunes.

In the Crowe spot, which features British star Beckinsale along with 'The Lord of The Rings' star Orlando Bloom, the two are seen as a couple walking down the street who are pursued by a number of admirers during their walk. Of course, it is not their Hollywood star status, which has drawn the admirers.

In the Coen brothers spot, Christina Ricci is playing Dennis Hopper in a poolside game of chess while Coppola's commercial spot features a cast of young rising stars including Scarlett Johansson of indy hit 'Ghost World', and Zooey Deschanel of 'Almost Famous', riding bicycles on an empty city street.

Gap will be hoping that it will perform as well as some of its earlier advertising, which included "west side story" and "khakis swing".

The campaign is the first since start-up agency Laird & Partners was launched by Donna Karan's creative director to handle the brand's advertising. Laird & Partners became only the second agency to be appointed by Gap in its history.

Its appointment followed the parting of the ways with Boston-based Modernista, which became Gap's agency appointment in October 2000. Modernista created spots throughout 2001, including those starring obscure celebrities such as Macy Gray, Seal and Air.

Before the appointment of Modernista, Gap's ads had been developed by an in-house agency, which developed the Gap Khaki ads among others.

The retailer has seen its sales decline for 23 months in a row, partly due to the economy, but the chain has also been accused of making a series of fashion faux pas by diversifying from its trusted reputation of providing classic clothing.

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