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Tony Bennett gives love through arts education

CompanySeth Farbman, Global CMO, GapComment

We knew we liked Tony Bennett. He’s a cultural icon and one of the greatest vocal stylists of all time. He was passed the baton by Frank Sinatra. He served his country in WWII. He marched in the Sixties for civil rights in Selma, Alabama. He campaigns against gun violence.

Tony is 87 years of believing in bright. We knew we wanted him to be part of our “Make Love” holiday print campaign. But once we met him, and got to know him, what we loved most was his tireless support of the arts in public school.

When he arrived on set, there was an aura of respect that I had rarely seen before. Everybody revered him as a living legend, and respected his authenticity and generosity. He was magnetic, all smiles and graciousness. We walked away wanting more.

Soon after the print shoot, I talked to his son, Danny Bennett, who brilliantly manages his father’s career. We talked about all the great duets Tony had done with talented younger artists, sharing his experience and love for music. Lady Gaga. Mariah Cary. Michael Buble. Maybe we could do that for Gap?

But it was Tony’s greatest performance—creating the non-profit foundation Exploring the Arts — that inspired us most. ETA enables kids at nearly 20 public high schools to follow their dreams of becoming singers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers at a time when schools are struggling for support. We thought, these kids are the real up-and-coming stars. And let’s do more than just a duet.

So we went to Tony’s hometown of Queens, NY, to tour the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, which Tony founded in partnership with the NYC Department of Education. We were simply blown away. We immediately came up with the idea of giving five students the incredible opportunity of performing with Tony his iconic song, “The Best is Yet to Come.”

And that was the genesis of these films. We documented the students’ auditions, their rehearsal, and captured the energy and electricity of people doing what they love most. It was a very honest moment between an 87-year-old legend who still amazes us all with his skill, his energy, and his passion, and five teenagers who just experienced a moment of a lifetime.

We’ve got customers who are young, and we’ve got customers who are over 100. What they all have in common are hopes and dreams and the belief that the best really is yet to come. It comes through education, through opportunity, through love. Through people like Tony, ideas like ETA and inspiring students like these.

We hope these Gap films make the season a little brighter and remind people about what it really means to “Make Love” this holiday.

Take a look at the first film here, and see others on the Gap YouTube channel.