Friday, December 18, 2009

Target misses the mark

I love Target. The first-ever Target store was a mile from my house (it's been replaced by a SuperTarget). Their headquarters are still local, their policies are a little more progressive than other big-box stores, and returning stuff is easy so it's a good place to buy gifts for people you don't know well (such as the families for whom I shop each year). Oh, and the merchandise is pretty good, especially when you don't need top-of-the-line, which covers a lot of ground.

So why are they messing with our beautiful friendship?

Their Black Friday ads were may recall the manic Christmas shopper woman pulling weighted carts uphill to train for the weekend's shopping. She was also decorating and baking in what was supposed to be a sendup of holiday excess, but was totally joyless. At best, I have to think people felt a little revulsion at the thought of running into other shoppers like the one featured in the ads. At worst, is that how Target sees me, its potential customer, er, guest?

The nastiness has continued. All of their holiday ads are featuring people in conflict or frustration. Probably the mildest is the family where the dad is trying to hook up the camcorder to the TV and the kids are saying, "No, it's not working yet" although we know it is--because we see that they are focusing the video camera on dad's butt. The whole family is snickering while he struggles. Okay, we've all been there, and maybe he'll laugh when he turns around and finds out they've been yanking his chain. But WHAT IS THIS AD SELLING? As I recall, it never mentions the video cam; it talks about family fun in general. This fun is a little skewed, and it doesn't inspire me to buy a big-ticket item so I can make fun of...whomever.

In another example, kids are opening presents from Santa. The dad whispers to the Mom (paraphrasing here), I thought we agreed not to spend so much. Mom says it didn't cost all that much. Pretty soon they're talking out loud and the kids can hear, so he says something like Santa must have forgotten about his budget. Mom, very tense, says icily, Maybe Santa doesn't need any help doing his job. And it's left there, the kind of grit-your-teeth resentment that has ruined (or threatened) at least one of your holidays, no?

Until recently, Target had some of the best advertising always supported their brand, their focus on design, the huge variety of both useful and decorative stuff, and the straightforward pricing. They didn't show the logo until the very end, but you always knew within about 10 seconds that it was Target. And they did clever things that were fun to watch.

Whoever came up with this nasty new campaign is way off the mark. Whoever approved it should have greater consideration for the tone they bring into people's homes with their advertising, and for the intelligence of their customers.

Unfortunately, some research has shown that irritating people can cause them to be more aware of you. It will be interesting to see whether the advertising has worked as Target hopes...whether December sales do well compared with last year and compared with other retailers.

I'm not exactly boycotting, but I'm spending less there this year. And I'm disappointed in them.


Ms Sparrow said...

I live about three miles from your Target store. I heartily agree with your take on the current ad campaign. I have to wonder what demographic are they appealing to? It's certainly not those who are struggling to get in the Christmas spirit.

JenJen said...

I agree. I didn't find that ad humorous.

Jeanne Estridge said...

Visiting from Pearl's.... Like you, I'm a big fan of Target (and a former resident of St. Paul), but, fortunately, I haven't seen these ads (we tend to DVR right past all the commercials), but they sound truly awful.

Hope you have a great holiday in spite of that!

Anonymous said...

We gave up on going to any store on black friday. It ain't worth it.

The plant hook we got is about 5 feet tall and I stick about 12 inches in the ground. I also use it when there are less b irds around to hang a suit cake on.

gayle said...

I dvr most things so I didn't see these but I agree with you!!

Tom Bailey said...

Strong emotion might work. I gave up on expecting much of anything from televison.

Kindest regards,
Tom Bailey

Unknown said...

They made me mad a while back and I wrote and complained, apparently i am not in their target demographic group because they have not responded

Michelle said...

Ahhh, I remember that old Target store :) Then again, I remember the old LaBelle's.... Memories!

I don't tend to watch much tv and fewer commercials. I have seen all those commercials you mention, however. While I knew the Thanksgiving preparer was a Target one (due to its incessant airing during Thanksgiving football), I actually didn't even realize that the other two were Target ads. They're so far from what I expect from Target that it didn't even register. So sad!

Allyson said...

Stopping by from Surferwife's blog...and y'know I really thought it was just me with that ad with the kids and the video camera. EVERY TIME I see it, I'm annoyed. And you're right, Target used to do REALLY fun things with their logo...lots of morphing into unexpected products. I loved that. I do not, however, love this. ARGH.


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