There’s something different about Target’s 2016 back-to-school ads and it isn’t the products they are featuring. Underscoring the importance of knowing your target audience, Target and its agency of record handed over the reins for its campaign to the target audience. That’s right: Target’s 2016 back-to-school ads are scripted, illustrated, directed and styled by kids.
While the idea of giving up control can be scary, when brands embrace their target audiences they stand to cultivate life-long customers and raving fans. These fans often become word-of-mouth brand ambassadors and valuable referral sources, exposing a suite of products and services to like-minded consumers. In the case of Target, they were able to capture the vision and voice of their audience in an authentic and engaging way.
Audience-driven vs audience-influenced
While Target made the bold decision to let their audience drive and execute their campaign, other brands may be hesitant to relinquish that much control. Audience-influenced marketing can still be engaging, authentic and impactful – it just requires additional planning to ensure authenticity remains from inception through execution.
Opportunities for target audiences to influence a company’s or cause’s marketing include picking the theme for a conference or fundraiser, impacting blog content (your client’s most common questions often make great fodder for blog posts), generating the creative concept for a social media contest and the list goes on.
Regardless of the approach, stay on-brand
While enlisting kids to drive the “To School and Beyond” campaign was aligned with Target’s overall brand and beliefs, there is often a temptation to be creative for the sake of creativity. While being the first, only or original can be valuable, the decision to pursue that direction needs to be aligned with one’s overall brand. Your brand is among your most valuable marketing assets and inconsistency can be detrimental to recognition and retention. You don’t want people to say, “Did you see the great back-to-school ads on ABC last night?” You want people to say, “Did you see Target’s new back-to-school ads?” A memorable concept is great but its true value comes from being able to foster a positive and lasting association with a product, service or brand.
The 2016 back-to-school season is expected to reach $828.81 billion in retail sales, an increase of 2.6% over 2015, according to eMarketer. While Target has unveiled its campaign showcasing the power and creativity of kids, it remains to been seen how this bold direction will translate into increased sales for the big box retailer. At first glance, it seems Target has embraced several of the golden rules of marketing – know your audience, be authentic, stay on brand – to develop a multi-channel campaign that will get people talking, engage online and offline audiences and drive foot traffic as well as online sales.
Whether your brand is new or well-established, your company boutique or global, the golden rules of great marketing still apply, one of which is maintaining a consistent brand. If you’re looking for a handy resource to ensure your image and message are on-point from tradeshow booths to social media marketing, our brand consistency checklist can help. Download your complimentary copy today.