Posts Tagged ‘Target’

What a (Lame) Feeling!

August 13th, 2013

Department stores are among the most image-conscious types of retailers, which makes me wonder what Kohl’s was thinking when they decided to air this commercial.

It would be hard to imagine a less clever,  less cool and less fashionable commercial than this one.  It’s something you might expect from a small, independent clothing store in a small Midwestern town.

I’m not sure what’s more lame:  the fake-looking red hair on the Kohl’s clerk, her sappy facial expression, or the dance performed by the mother and daughter to the sorely dated song, “What a Feeling.”

If Kohl’s has any hopes of competing on the national stage with savvy retailers ranging from Target on the low end to Nordstrom on the high end, they’re going  to have to up their game considerably.

Kohl’s tagline is, “Expect great things.”  I think Kohl’s management needs to heed their own words and expect more–a lot more–from their marketing department and ad agency.

Target’s Grammy Ad Rates “21″ on a 10-Scale

February 14th, 2012

There was a lot of class and creativity on display on the recent Grammy Awards broadcast.  I was blown away by the performances of LL Cool J (who could not have set a more perfect tone as host), Jennifer Hudson, Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney and of course, the night’s biggest winner, the lovely and immensely talented Adele.  But the musicians weren’t the only ones whose creative brilliance was on display this night.  Equally impressive to me was this ad run by Target.

I find this ad to be brilliant on several levels:

  1. It was extremely entertaining to first hear the young bus-rider beautifully singing Adele’s powerful “Rolling in the Deep”, with her fellow bus-riders handling background vocals, and then to have her voice seamlessly segue into Adele’s.
  2. It very effectively sells the spectacular product being advertised–Adele’s “21″ CD.  (Anyone hearing this song who didn’t already own it and didn’t immediately plan to buy it needs to have his or her taste examined.)
  3. The placement of the ad couldn’t have smarter.  Adele had already won a few Grammys on the show, and she would go on to win all 6 awards for which she was nominated.  On top of that, only a few months after vocal chord surgery, she gave a powerful live performance of the already-iconic “Rolling in the Deep” that brought the house down.
  4. Target wasn’t just advertising a “commodity” product; its version of “21″ contains several songs that cannot be found on any other version.  Clearly, if you don’t already own “21″, this is the one to buy.

All in all, it’s hard to imagine a more intelligent piece of marketing.  I just regret that my ratings elevator only goes up to the 14th floor.

Target.com Customer Service Way Off the Mark

January 9th, 2011

Over the years I’ve generally been a big fan of Target, particularly the ambience of its stores and its product selection.  However, I just had the type of disappointing experience with Target.com that makes me wonder if things are starting to unravel as this well-respected retailer.

Our son, who recently moved to China, gave my wife a Target.com e-gift card for Christmas.  Redeeming it this afternoon, however, proved to be a major ordeal. First, when when I tried to enter the payment information, I got a message saying that e-gift cards can’t be used on target.com–even though the email announcing the gift made it clear that e-gift cards can only be used on target.com.  After wasting several minutes of my life trying to figure out what was going on, I stumbled upon some fine print informing me that the problem was that we were doing the transaction as a “guest”, and that e-gift cards can only be used if the recipient has a Target.com account.

So is this a ploy by Target to force people to create online accounts?  Or, worse yet, is it a ploy to frustrate gift recipients and induce them to help Target’s bottom line by simply giving up on redeeming their e-gift cards? I don’t know the answer, but I know it’s not good for Target to have its policies create such questions in the minds of its customers.

Anyway, I then created an online account, but the site wouldn’t accept the password I created–and didn’t tell me what, if anything, I was doing wrong.  So I had to call their toll-free number, where a very nice–but very hard-to-understand–telephone rep was finally able to set up a password for me that worked.  (What had I done wrong in trying to create the password on my own?  Nothing, according to the rep.)

Home free?  Not quite.  When I placed the order, the cost of the least expensive shipping option was $17–or 4 times what Borders.com had charged me an hour earlier for a heavier and larger shipment.

So now I’m left wondering if Target has suddenly become greedy, incompetent, unethical, or some combination thereof. I know they and the financial analysts following them have been disappointed in their recent revenue trends, but whether this is resulting in pressures to cut corners on customer service in order to boost the bottom line is impossible to me for say.

What I can say is that, in my mind,  the service I received today has served to replace Target’s red bullseye with a red flag.

Back on Target!

April 29th, 2010

For years, Target had one of the most consistent and stylish TV ad campaigns in any category.  The ads never said the brand name out loud, and they only revealed the brand logo at the end of each spot–normally two big no-nos in my book.  On top of that, the music varied from ad to ad.  Yet as soon as any given ad came on, you knew almost immediately that it was for Target.

One reason is that the ads were visually connected via a red-and-white color theme and the placement of circular objects to reinforce the design of the brand’s logo.  Another is the fact that all of the songs–while not necessarily familiar–shared an upbeat, contemporary, smart sound.  Add it all up, and you had a campaign that was fun to watch and that appears to have helped drive above-market sales growth for Target for several years.

But then Target’s advertising started to miss the mark.  Its ads no long stood out, and its brand personality was suddenly unclear.  The situation reached bottom as recently as Christmas 2009, when a new series of ads caused me to post a rant entitled, “Does This Campaign Seem Off-Target to You?”

But based on their new TV commercial, it appears that Target’s advertising is back and better than ever.  The first time I saw it, I knew within 5 seconds that it had to be a Target spot, even though there are even fewer conventional branding cues than in their past successful ads.  Frankly, I’m not quite sure how they pulled this off, but to me this spot screams “Target” from start to finish.

The intent of the spot was clearly an ambitious one:  to help reestablish Target as the leading-edge fashion mass merchandiser for young consumers while making those consumers aware of the many leading-edge brands it carries exclusively.  And as far as I can see, this mission was accomplished–big-time!  The ad’s song–”The A.B.C. of L.O.V.E.” by Pravda–is a high-energy tune that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.  And the visuals are as fashion-forward as just about anything on the air right now.

Of course, I’m not exactly in Target’s target audience–at least for this campaign–so maybe the fact that it appeals to me is actually a bad sign.  Only time will tell, but until it does, I can’t wait for Target’s next ad.  And I’m betting that Target might be a good place to target not only your consumption dollars, but your investment dollars as well.

Does This Campaign Seem Off-Target to You?

December 9th, 2009

For much of this decade, Target was one of the most sophisticated and effective advertisers in the retail industry. Their ads were bright, upbeat and infectious, and they made their products the heroes of every one. Most impressively, these ads were instantly recognizable as Target ads, even if you didn’t see the Target name or distinctive logo until the very end of the spot. In a word, this advertising was smart.

Several articles in various business journals have discussed Target’s recent strategic shift to increase its emphasis on low pricing in response to its soft sales trends. Changing your strategic stripes is always dicey, and based on the slew (sleigh?) of holiday ads Target has launched in recent weeks, it looks like they’ve yet to get a handle on their new tack. And the result could be a real dent in Target’s brand equity.

Several of the ads involve vignettes in which a gift recipient is concerned that the gift-giver has spent too much on them. Each time, the ad ends with the giver saying that the gift didn’t cost as much as it appears, and that’s fine. What I don’t like is what happens in the middle of the ad, which is invariably a downer. In “Confession”, a young daughter’s guilt forces her to confess bad things she’s done, like reading her older sister’s diary and forging her mom’s signature. In “There Yet”, a young woman feels compelled to let her gift-giver know that she’s not as into the relationship as he appears to be. Both spots are only marginally funny and leave you feeling a little sad, a little uncomfortable, or both.

Another ad called “Is It Working?” shows a boy projecting his father’s rear-end onto their big-screen TV, while the unsuspecting father is trying to fix the TV that his son has led him to believe is not working properly. Written or directed differently, this ad could be amusing or even charming, but instead it comes off as sophomoric at best and mean at worst. All of these ads end with a voice singing “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” but the feeling you’re left with is hardly a warm one.

A prior series of ads, including one called “Gingerbread”, featured an over-caffeinated Martha Stewart-like “perfect homemaker” who is clearly stressed out keeping up with all of her holiday projects. The first ad made me smile slightly, but by the third one I wanted this lady to leave me alone and return to her asylum.

I’m all for using humor in advertising, but–especially for a mainstream advertiser with Target’s upbeat brand image–the humor should be smart, uplifting and light rather than clumsy, cynical and dark.

It seems clear that Target’s marketers have abandoned their brand’s distinctive persona without identifying an appealing replacement, and I suspect that the result will be a 2009 holiday season with decidedly off-target sales.