NEW YORK Always on the lookout for creative ways to launch its products, Target hosted its first-ever bash at the all-glass, Frank Gehry-designed IAC Building last night to celebrate the Shops at Target, which debuts at all 1,763 Target stores nationwide this Sunday and is one of the retailer’s biggest merchandising initiatives in recent years.
As with all launch events hosted by the retail giant, the goal was simple: create something unexpected and cool to showcase the product offerings in a different kind of way, while utilizing elements of social media. With that in mind, the stark, all-white venue coupled with the grand video wall served an ideal backdrop to tell a story. “It’s a unique feature that provides a myriad of options for both decor, messaging, and social media tie-ins,” said longtime Target partner David Stark. Stark's eponymous company was responsible for designing, planning, and producing the 350-person affair, which drew names like Martha Stewart, Emma Roberts, January Jones, Lauren Bush Lauren, model Hilary Rhoda, Giada De Laurentiis, and Leelee Sobieski.
Although each of the five inaugural Shops at Target partners—the Candy Store in San Francisco, Colorado-based Cos Bar cosmetics shop, Boston’s Polka Dog Bakery, Connecticut-based home products maker Privet House, and Miami apparel boutique the Webster—have distinct brand identities and the shop owners themselves were all present for the event, Stark sought to present a consistent message and keep the focus on the Target collections.
From the design of the invitation to the physical vignettes designed for the event, Target and Stark played up the idea of “suspension” as an unexpected way that would, according to Stark, challenge the “artistic boundaries as a company, as artists, and as an agency partner.” The abstract, chandelier-like concept was applied to each of the distinct displays created, with miles of trick and fishing line utilized to suspend about 8,000 items. “The appropriate line was chosen depending on its look and relation to the scale/color/weight of the object,” Stark noted.
Running along the entire length of the venue’s video wall was a social media program run by event marketing and production firm ExtraExtra. The showcase featured a looped video reel of oversize product offerings digitally displayed alongside Shops at Target tweets and live images.
Noticeably different from past Target launch events was the lack of a shopping component; even with a surprise performance from Wilson Phillips and old-school hip-hop songs spun by DJs Theophilus London and Chelsea Leyland, the event had a definite low-key and relaxed vibe and none of the frenzy its former concept, the five-year-old Go International program, tended to generate at such launch events.
Target has already selected its sophomore series of the Shops participants, which launches in September. While the exact names have not been revealed, there will be four stores—two dedicated to home and two to fashion, one men’s shop and women’s shop.