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Old Navy's commercial featuring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein
“We look like furniture.”
PUT A BIRD ON IT

Video: Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein selling holiday sweaters is actually really funny

By Marc Bain

If there’s a brand in its portfolio that Gap Inc. should feel cheerful about this holiday season, it’s Old Navy. Even while Gap and Banana Republic have flagged, the low-cost label has seen continued growth, a feat impressive enough that Ralph Lauren poached its global president to replace Lauren himself as CEO.

One area where the brand is doing things right is in commercials. The new Old Navy holiday spot stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein of Portlandia, the Emmy-nominated series that gently mocks the oddities and obsessions of Portland, Oregon. Banished to the kids table for their drab clothes—”We look like furniture,” Brownstein says—the pair are advised to head to Old Navy, naturally, by a composed little boy in a shawl-neck cardigan.

But the best part may be that Old Navy’s clothes aren’t all that present. It’s more about the Brownstein and Armisen mocking each other’s appearances. “You look like a piece of wood,” Brownstein tells Armisen.

This series will continue through the holidays. Ivan Wicksteed, Old Navy’s chief marketing officer, told AdAge he’s trying to “make the brand cool again, after it spent years in the “clothes-by-the-pound business.”

To that end, Old Navy has been casting some of TV’s funniest actors for its ads, including Amy Poehler of NBC’s show Parks and Recreation and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the lead of HBO’s hit Veep and previously one of the core cast of Seinfeld. Louis-Dreyfus just appeared in Old Navy’s Black Friday commercial with Kumail Nanjiani of HBO’s Silicon Valley and rapper Snoop Dogg. In the commercial, Louis-Dreyfus and Nanjiani play burglars who break into rapper Snoop Dogg’s house and tie him up in their search for money.

Louis-Dreyfus: “I follow you on Instagram, man. I’ve seen that cash in your hot tub. Where’s the million dollars?”

Snoop Dogg: “My money is in a shoebox, hidden somewhere deep below the sea. You can dance underwater, but you might get wet.”

Louis-Dreyfus: “What the [expletive] are you talking about?”

It’s always a good sign when TV commercials can direct digital traffic, and Adweek, which picked it as the top ad of the Black Friday weekend, said that the Louis-Dreyfus/Snoop Doog video generated 3.6 million online views.