Fast Company took a trip to Gap today not just to update our cache of relaxed fit chinos but "check in" on how the company's Facebook partnership was panning out. This week, the retailer took advantage of Facebook's new Deals feature with a promotion that promised a free pair of jeans to the first 10,000 people checking in at Gap stores with Facebook Places. When we arrived at a lower Manhattan Gap, the store was next to empty. No long lines, or iPhone-wielding customers ripping jeans from one another. Heck, there weren't even signs advertising the Facebook promotion.
But don't let that fool you: Facebook Deals has been a huge success.
When I asked one store staffer whether any free jeans were left, she smiled and shook her head. The free jeans were long gone, she said, with lines stretching out the door since before the store opened at 8 a.m. People were actually showing their check-ins? Yes, she said. On Facebook Places!?! Yes.
Perhaps this store was the exception, I thought. But after calls to a slew of Gap stores in high-traffic New York City areas—Soho, the Financial District, Midtown—it appeared this was the norm. Every store worker I spoke with—only aware I was a potential customer—explained that the promotion had ended hours ago. Lines, they said, stretched out the doors, filled with eager-to-check-in customers. Many weren't sure of the exact number of free jeans offered before the 40%-off deal kicked in, but estimates were pegged between 50 to 100 for each store.
What's most impressive is how little the stores were advertising the promotion. Again, there were no big ads for check-in deals in-store; even heading to Gap.com reveals no mention of Facebook. Rather, what began only as an announcement by Mark Zuckerberg at a presser on Wednesday has spread across the social network, likely thanks to a mention on Gap's Facebook page. So far, close to 25,000 customers have said they're attending the event, and hundreds and hundreds of check-ins have popped up in the last hour alone.
The big question is whether the customers who miss the deal will still continue to shop at Gap, perhaps taking advantage of the 40%-off deal for late-arrivals. Clearly, Facebook Places and Deals are capable of a nationwide promotion—but we'll have to wait and see whether Facebook can drum up similar numbers for a non-free promotion.
Have any Fast Company readers checked in at Gap today? How was your experience?