Top 10 Innovative Brands 2016: #5 Target

The retailer markets its breadth of products by creating clever standalone activations and producing new experiences at major events.

By Jenny Berg May 17, 2016, 5:55 AM EDT

During the 58th annual Grammy Awards in February, the retailer partnered with Gwen Stefani to air a live concert commercial. Stefani performed against sets in Target’s red, white, and black hues.

Photo: Courtesy of Target

A leader in the retail sector, Target counts everything from beauty products to household cleaners and sports equipment among its merchandise. Ranked number 92 on Forbes’ Most Valuable Brands list, the Minneapolis-based corporation’s revenue last year was $72.6 billion. And in 2015, it saw growth in several key sales areas.

“Over the past two years, Target has prioritized areas of the business where we can be famous with guests, drive sales, and be a clear market leader,” says Tammy Redpath, senior vice president of creative and marketing operations at Target. Redpath adds that the retailer’s “signature categories” include fashion, wellness products, and items for kids and babies.

“As I look back at our experiential marketing strategy over the past year, it’s clear that our milestone moments helped to drive buzz and awareness for these important parts of Target’s business,” she says. To showcase its music collection, the brand staged a wholly original type of activation for a promotion that tied into the Grammy Awards, which were held in Los Angeles in February. Following the debut of the “live commercial” concept at the 2015 Grammys, the brand brought the idea back this year—with a new twist. During one of the commercial breaks, Target aired a live music video for Gwen Stefani’s single “Make Me Like You,” which is part of the singer’s new album available at Target stores. Filmed on a soundstage in Burbank, California, the video featured Stefani performing her song while moving through several eye-catching sets.

Target has also promoted its kids’ category with events. It launched an ambitious holiday activation, Target Wonderland, produced by David Stark Design and Production for two weeks in December. The 16,000-square-foot pop-up shop in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood offered free activities where kids could play with the season’s in-demand toys, speak with Santa via satellite, and create custom ornaments.

Target also hosted a public event in New York in March to introduce Pillowfort, a new line of kids’ home decor. Held at Highline Stages and produced by Caravents, the three-day launch centered on a sprawling installation with different themes that matched those in the collection, including flowers, outer space, and the ocean.

Later this year, Target will host another launch event for a new apparel line for children called Cat & Jack. “We know that one way to garner awareness of a new media brand is through immersive experiences that we create for media and guests. So, these events have been an important element of the marketing for the new brands,” Redpath says.

“Our goal in experiential marketing is to create meaningful interactions with our guests,” she continues. “Sometimes we do that through creating our own conversations, like we did with Pillowfort, and sometimes we do that by joining other cultural conversations. Our Grammys commercial provided Target with an opportunity to be part of a larger conversation and highlight products that we uniquely offer.”

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