American lifestyle brand Gant is launching a minimally-branded video series.
The show, titled “Couple Thinkers,” follows the comedian and one-time “Late, Late Night” host Craig Ferguson and his wife Megan as they travel the world interviewing notable figures about different social-cultural phenomena, ranging from sustainability to psychopathy. Guests include Arianna Huffington, Kimbal Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, scientist Daisy Robinton, filmmaker Jon Ronson and author Jo Nesbø. The show will premiere on YouTube on October 9.
“Normal advertising methods interrupt what people are interested in,” said Eleonore Säll, Gant’s global marketing director. “We want to become what they want to see instead of interrupting it.”
The six-episode series marks the company’s largest marketing campaign yet, one that Säll said required greater investment than ever before and a leap of faith from the company’s board members. While Gant couldn’t provide numbers, Säll noted there were over 150 digital assets for “Couple Thinkers,” compared to their usual assets: five print and one commercial.
A promotional poster for Gant’s new show, “Couple Thinkers”
As for whether or not the brand is trying to court a major network to pick up the series, Säll was ambivalent. “I think we’d be open to it if it was a good relationship that made sense, but for now, this is the best way to get it out there to everyone,” she said of the show, which will stream in 70 countries and be promoted with clips on Facebook and Instagram. Only 20 percent of Gant’s ad spend went to advertising outside the digital realm – that included posters in subway stations and magazine ads.
The 30-minute episodes — which have been shot like a highly polished reality TV series, in Los Angeles — feature surprisingly little mention of the Gant brand, other than “Created by Gant” posted at the end of the opening and closing credits. The Fergusons both wear Gant’s simple, preppy separates, though they’re never directly mentioned. All guests wear their own clothing.
“This is the future of brand marketing, and I think we’ll see it happen a lot more,” said Säll, arguing that it’s best for a brand to be upfront about their hand in such projects, given how aware today’s consumers are of the various forces behind all information. Tackling content is just the start for brands, she added, suggesting that getting directly involved in politics could be next. “With brands, [if they take a political stand], consumers at least feel that they know what they stand for,” she said.
This step outside of their comfort zone was originally inspired by the brand’s internal credo of “Never stop learning” — a concept it wants to prove to its customers that it’s committed to. “To be a leading brand in the future, we believe consumers need to understand why your brand exists,” said Gant’s chief executive officer, Patrik Nilsson.
Megan and Craig Ferguson with the author Jo Nesbø on “Couple Thinkers”
The journey first began in 2015, when the brand worked with French PR agency BETC to refresh Gant’s visual identity and launch its first global campaign, which celebrated the brand’s origins on Ivy League campuses and the changemakers that emerged from them. “We wanted to continue that by creating content that would inspire people to learn more or think about how they could create change within their own careers,” said Säll.
The Fergusons, who the brand reached out to directly earlier this year, offered the perfect, humorous counterpart to the series’ philosophical subject matter. They’re now executive producers on the show.
While “Couple Thinkers” seems to be among the splashiest video initiatives we’ve seen from an apparel brand thus far (many thanks to its stars), it debuts on the heels of other brands launching video series, including Converse on Twitter and Hollister on AwesomenessTV.