Sara Bareilles, Liz Phair, OK Go and Tommy Torres will join five other artists as the faces of Banana Republic's spring and summer ad campaigns.
The national campaigns will feature print advertising, window displays and billboards identifying the artists wearing the company's clothes. Banana Republic customers will receive an iTunes gift card with purchase from Feb. 17-26, redeemable for a free compilation of songs by the participating artists.
Acoustic soul singer Ayo, Dashboard Confessional, jazz artist Esperanza Spaulding, saxophonist David Sanchez and classical violinist David Garrett are also part of the initiative.
During the campaign's second phase, expected to begin in May, another set of digital tracks will be released by the same nine artists -- this time original songs they composed especially for the retailer's "City Stories" theme. Those will be housed on the campaign's microsite, where visitors can also access free downloads, videos and interviews with the artists and link to iTunes directly.
In addition to the advertising and digital content, artists will receive in-store play and have recorded voice-overs to introduce their songs. The in-store playlists also include songs by other acts that the artists recommend. Garrett, Sanchez and Puerto Rican singer/songwriter Torres will perform invitation-only acoustic sets at Banana Republic stores in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles on Feb. 26.
"City Stories" was executed by New York agency AR, with artist casting support by Starworks and music aggregation and marketing by San Francisco-based Rock River Music.
Banana Republic's chief marketing officer Peter DeLuca tells Billboard that the campaign began by targeting "the modern soul": shoppers between the ages of 25 and 49 who "aspire to a city lifestyle," says DeLuca. "We're really trying to establish the brand's vision of the city as an anchor point. Music is a key piece of the puzzle."
So is the online aspect, says DeLuca. "We wanted to do something that broke out from the way we were traditionally marketing in the past," he says. "We are definitely leveraging online as a means to deliver a large portion of the campaign and give a visual and audio component to the brand."
Artists were chosen for their diversity of genres, their single or album release schedules, and if they'd feel right in Banana Republic clothes. The campaign is kicking off just as Torres is releasing a deluxe edition of his Warner Music Latina album, "Tarde O Temprano." His new single, "Imparable," is featured in the Banana Republic compilation.