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Facebook Places "Deals" Gap a Huge Success

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 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?

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  • Ashleigh

    I did write about this deal on my blog: http://www.thankfullythrifty.c...
    You're right though. This deal was virtually unannounced, with the exception of Gap's Facebook page! It amazed me. I actually was in a Gap on the 4th and asked about this promo. The store manager looked at me suspiciously asking how I knew about it! Totally word of mouth - Facebook users only.
    I got to my store (a smaller one, bound to have a shorter line) in Plano, TX at 9:30. We were number 20-something. I had been told each store would have 50. But the lady came out and cut the line off after 19, saying she only had 19 coupons. Bummer. BUT wait. Then someone said they had checked in and the redemption coupon had said they were 7... then someone else 11... etc. and that she was supposed to take them in their numerical order of check-in, not necessarily by the line. She went in and I guess was told that same thing, so she let numbers 1-19 on redemption get free jeans too. Score! That was me!
    Here's what the confusion was... so you stand in line and assume because you are one of the first few, you'll get jeans. Then there are people standing in line AND checked in, assuming they will get the jeans. Then there are those who stood in line, checked in, and hit "redeem coupon for free jeans" on their iPhones, assuming they get free jeans. You had to do all three to get the jeans... confusing much? In the future stores may need to clarify this policy or decide for sure just how far customers need to go to get their free jeans.
    And as a reader said before, I am pretty sure those first original 19 did not have their phones checked.

  • Fiona McEachran

    This feels a little like Facebook trying to be everything to everybody, and wanting a piece of the "Foursquare" pie. Very few companies can be great at everything.

    But of course this really falls on the shoulders of Gap, who are trying to ride the new "Facebook Places" fad, and have been clearly ill-prepared for this promotion to begin with.

    This seems like a very embarrasing situation for Gap, and it will be interesting to see what their next move will be...

  • nickelnm

    I wrote a post about this promotion on my own blog. I have to agree with a few of the commenters and disagree with the author. While all of the jeans were given away, how many people fully understood this promotion? I understood how it works, but I am an early adopter to Location Based Services and have 4 different apps I utilize at each location in order to 'checkin'. One is just for the heck of it, and two of them actually reward me for checking on. One actually pays me in cold hard cash for checking into a location.

    At the mall I visited the store did not make sure everyone was checked in AND people got in line simply because they saw the line in the mall - not because they knew of the promotion ahead of time.

  • Mark Frisk

    I'm surprised to see the Gap/Facebook promo characterized as a success. All I've heard is about how pissed off people are, how the promotion was poorly conceived and difficult to understand, etc.

    Clue: When tons of people are hitting your Facebook page with either complaints or entries that read "check in," you're not looking at a successful situation.

  • creativereason

    This article doesn't really convince me that Facebook places is a "Huge Success". Getting people to wait in line for a free giveaway isn't necessarily hard.

    I'd love a critical post-campaign article with real numbers from Gap like: foot-traffic increase, up-sell % and ROI (not check-ins, and anecdotal accounts from store staff).

  • Nathan Hangen

    Really? It was a success?

    How else would you expect a giveaway to go?

    Congratulations GAP, you gave money away. What about moving product with a $ sign on it?

  • JKB1002

    Really? Have you looked at the GAP Facebook page to see everyone's feedback? This thing looks like a huge flop. People are super confused, nobody knows what Places is or how to check in, and the "first 10,000" wording is super-misleading when it's really the first handful or so of customers at each individual location. The one I went to had only 25 (all of which were gone) even though the Places check-in page had 7 check-ins.

  • matt

    They had an allotted 15 jeans per GAP, I was told by an employee. Also, the check-in 'deal' did not work on Android phones...FAIL. People did show up, but only were there because they were getting free jeans, and most of the people I talked to at the store, seemed alittle confused about Places and that it actually published your location to people on FB. I am an early adopter and fully understand this technology (working on a startup that has a better way to earn rewards through a smartphone), but it will be interesting seeing how Deals takes off, or was the hype enough to attract a few bargain hunters with iPhones.

  • Aimee

    OMG! Super pissed! I checked-in on Facebook. I followed the instructions and what...they didn't have any free jeans left! Gap just gave them away to the first 100 people that showed up! WTF is that?! My check-in and e-mail confirmation rightfully says I should get a free pair as I was #27 to check in. Gap stores need to follow the rules! They owe me..and everyone else that checked in. Horrible experience.