Friday, March 23, 2012

How Target became the chic/cheap leader...

More than a dozen years ago — long before Target had struck up a string of collaborations with elite fashion designers or cemented its reputation as the cheap-chic leader — the Bullseye’s marketing department called Vogue to buy space for several ads.

The response? "No, thank you".

Tom Nowak, president of Minneapolis-based Peterson Milla Hooks (Target’s ad agency at the time) recalled that the retailer got a letter saying, “We don’t want your money, because including a brand like Target would diminish the quality of our advertising.’ “

According to AdNewsNow, the only option was to make Target’s advertising more appealing. Target challenged PMH to devise a branding campaign that would help it break out of the mold of dowdy Midwestern discounter and redefine what a large retail store could do. PMH succeeded not just once, but with campaign after campaign that proved critical to securing Target’s reputation for great design.

And their work paid off: when Target launched their collection from Italian fashion house Missoni last Fall, they won Anna Wintour’s seal of approval and secured a 20-page insert in Vogue’s September issue (including the coveted back cover).

Retail experts say that what really put Target on the map was 1999′s “Sign of the Times” by PMH. The whimsical TV spots and billboards — which reinterpreted Target’s red-and-white bull’s-eye logo as a pattern for dresses, rugs and vacuums, and painted a bull’s-eye on the now-iconic dog — diverged from traditional retail ads. That departure from what the competition was doing set the tone for Target’s advertising program. Dave Peterson, PMH founder and creative director, said that “Sign of the Times” was a breakthrough for the agency because it was allowed to do work intended to elevate a brand rather than simply sell merchandise.

Sadly, as I reported back in September, the Missoni launch was the last project by Peterson Milla Hooks for Target, as the agency and retailer parted ways last Fall after working together for almost two decades. And now I’m concerned over the news that Target has also parted ways with the agency that replaced them, Wieden & Kennedy.


Elizabeth said...

What do you think is going on with them. Why would they mess with success? I noticed this past Christmas, their TV spots were not as good as previous years. I really hope they don't do what Gap has done to themselves.

Target Addict said...

Elizabeth, I'm not sure what is going on, and I share your concerns. I do know that two key executives from Target's management team have left recently for JC Penney, which isn't a good sign.