New ad campaign highlights Target's impact on communities

  • Article by: KAVITA KUMAR , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 16, 2014 - 2:01 PM

New ad campaign highlights the retailer’s impact on communities it serves around the country.

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Target plans a new ad campaign about community involvement that had been delayed because of the data breach.

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Target Corp. thinks the timing is finally right to trumpet its impact on communities.

In February, the Minneapolis-based retailer pulled the plug on the “Around for Good” ad campaign that was set to air during the Winter Olympics — and when the massive data breach was still very fresh in people’s minds.

“Our gut feeling was that it didn’t feel right,” said Target spokesman Eric Hausman.

Now that a few months have passed, the company is ready to begin airing four spots that will run from Sunday through the end of June on cable and network channels, including during Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards.

The ads also come at a time when Target is trying to repair its public image after a series of setbacks. In December, Target revealed that its point-of-sale systems had been compromised by cyberthieves who gained access to the personal and financial information of tens of millions of customers. The breach triggered several congressional hearings and a blistering Senate committee report outlining several steps Target could have taken to prevent the attack.

Target’s chief executive, who stepped down last week, was apparently a casualty of the breach and other issues.

And earlier this week, the company’s chief marketing officer created a stir by posting a candid piece on LinkedIn in which he acknowledged that there are problems with the Target culture and said the retailer needs to innovate in order to recover from its current struggles.

Hausman said Target has seen improvement in rebuilding customer trust following the data breach. But the retailer knows it still has work to do.

“This [campaign] is another opportunity for us to help do that,” he said.

One of the ads features an urban high school in San Diego where Target has donated money for a community garden. In another, Target’s coffee buyer gets choked up when talking about how using direct trade coffee helps farmers invest in their families and land. And another spot is in Spanish and highlights the company’s school library makeover program.

Hausman noted that this is Target’s first marketing campaign that focuses on its commitment to communities.

Jennifer Johnson, an advertising professor at the University of Minnesota, said it was probably wise for Target to wait to run the ads so they were not overshadowed by the data breach. And by holding off a bit, the campaign comes off as being a little more genuine.

“And it’s spring,” she said. “We’re renewing. … There’s a different kind of energy in the spring.”

She added that more companies are touting their corporate giving in their ad campaigns these days. For one, it’s a message that is likely to resonate with millennials who have more of a community service mind-set.

“And it’s certainly a way to differentiate yourself, because big-box stores carry a lot of the same things,” she said.

Hausman said the content of the ads hasn’t changed since the planned rollout in February. But he said the company did decide to hold back two spots that possibly could run in the fall.

The ad agency Deutsch LA created the spots for Target.

 

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