'Individuals' Fall 2021 Ad Campaign

Review of Gap ‘Individuals’ Fall 2021 Ad Campaign by GAP Creative Director Len Peltier, Director Christian Weber, and Photographer Mark Seliger with talent Willa Amai, Alyssa Carson, Angus Cloud, Delfin Finley, Helena Howard, Kailand Morris, Nakia Smith, JaShaun St. John, and the Ebinum Brothers

Gap continues to celebrate modern American optimism with a new campaign that highlights expressive individuality as a tool for positive change. The iconic brand’s Fall 2021 “Individuals” campaign features creative direction from Len Peltier, direction by Christian Weber, photography by Mark Seliger, and a global cast of creative change makers.

The campaign stars award-winning director, writer, editor, and producer Chloé Zhao; actress and educator JaShaun St. John; 20-year-old space enthusiast, educator, and aspiring astronaut Alyssa Carson; actor Angus Cloud; influencer and BASL activist for the Black Deaf community Nakia Smith; 17-year-old singer-songwriter and mental health advocate Willa Amai; dancers the Ebinum Brothers; actor Helena Howard; artist Delfin Finley; and model, designer, and musician Kailand Morris.

The campaign continues the theme of developing a community of empowering individuals explored in spring’s “Generation Good” campaign, but this time around focuses more on personal expression and communication. “The idea of modern American optimism this time around,” Peltier explains, “was how people chose to communicate – through their chosen field, through their voice. We couldn’t write them until we cast it, and it really is about them; it’s more personal.

We got on the phone with everybody and talked to them about who they are, what they’re doing, and how they want to participate. It was really an expression of individuality and how each person communicates.”

– Len Peltier, Gap Creative Director

This idea of personal expression is reflected in the film spots, which are tailor-made to reflect the personality and creative pursuit of each individual. From the high-production sci-fi feeling of Alyssa Carson’s Mars manifesto, to the silence and simplicity of Nakia Smith’s signed affirmation of everybody’s right to be seen and heard, the range of voices is powerfully expressed.

The tight focus on moments of individualism tied into some smart thinking on Peltier’s part about how to communicate and make real connections in an age of short attention spans: “We were thinking about how media units had changed and about the 15-second unit. I had always been intrigued about designing into those units instead of cramming stuff into them by editing down a longer piece, which doesn’t really make sense.

We played with this concept of 15 minutes of fame becoming 15 seconds of fame, because that’s your attention span these days – what if we gave everybody 15 seconds to express this thing?”

– Len Peltier, Gap Creative Director

Each story was created through conversations with each individual. Some who appear in the photographs didn’t end up being the star of a film. Such was the case with director Chloé Zhao. “We talked with her and learned she’s really all about the story, not herself as a director,” explains Peltier. “That’s actually why she’s not in the video – she’s not the subject of what she wants to do; other people are. She introduced us to JaShaun St. John, the actress who she’s in the photograph with, who is in the video speaking her beautiful Lakota dialect. What we learned from them is that not only is JaShaun an excellent actress who Chloé Zhao discovered, but she also teaches at her reservation this language that is kind of dying. Chloé is heroing other people and their stories. Meanwhile JaShaun was very excited to be in the video speaking that language.”

Giving a platform to urgent, expressive voices that is at once unified while allowing them to maintain their unique perspectives, “Individuals” feels like a timely evolution of the activism campaign. With increasing connectivity, brands have a greater responsibility to honor the truths of the voices they call upon, but also an exciting opportunity to introduce people to these empowering voices they might not otherwise have gotten to hear. Gap executes this balance with finesse and fun.

The campaign’s accompanying denim spot, featuring dance troupe Jacob Jonas The Company, is an especially artful statement of this approach. The dance troupe was given the idea of three characters based on the fits of the jeans, which, with names like “cheeky slim,” already suggest strong personalities. In the dance film, they come on the scene individually, come together in a community moment, then go their own ways once again.

It’s kind of our whole brand positioning if you think about it: individuals coming together to create something beautiful, but still maintaining individuality. It’s collective individualism.

– Len Peltier, Gap Creative Director

GAP Creative Director | Len Peltier
Director | Christian Weber
Photographer | Mark Seliger
Talent | Willa Amai, Alyssa Carson, Angus Cloud, Delfin Finley, Helena Howard, Kailand Morris, Nakia Smith, JaShaun St. John, and the Ebinum Brothers
GAP Denim Film Choreographer | Jacob Jonas The Company
GAP Denim Film Music | ‘Come Down’ by Anderson .Paak