One advertising campaign I’ve really been enjoying lately is “The Everyday Collection” campaign by Target. We’ve talked about companies’ techniques to break through the “clutter” of advertising that consumers face every day, and I think that Target does just that with this campaign through irony and humor.  I would like to look at this particular ad as being produced in the “lifestyle format”, but still bearing in mind that the ad itself does not seem to be truly pitching to the lifestyle shown, but kindly poking fun at that lifestyle and, more broadly, branding in general.

    The ad portrays a very slender, beautiful woman dressed in short shorts and heels and wearing red lipstick. She climbs seductively up a ladder that twists and turns in geometric patterns up the ad’s frame. The camera pans in on the product being advertised-a package of light bulbs-as she continues to climb the ladder to change a light bulb in the ceiling. At the end of the ad, an off-screen woman smoothly whispers the name of the “collection” that these light  bulbs are part of: The Everyday Collection.

    Clearly, this ad is confronting and mocking the actual idea of branding, especially the branding of mundane things like light bulbs (the campaign also features items such as oatmeal and laundry detergent). The act of changing this light bulb is treated as a runway event, where the model’s hair and makeup are glamorous, and she wears heels to climb a ladder (which I’m assuming is more disabling than enabling). Additionally, the voice at the end speaks in a tone as if this item is a luxury part of a “collection” (as many designer items are), but the term “Everyday Collection” juxtaposes the tone, for the “everyday” is not rare, special or valuable, but plain, mundane and necessary. If not taken ironically, the ad seems to appeal to the lifestyle of being glamourous all the time and only using the best, most expensive designer products, even when it comes to light bulbs. But Target breaks through the clutter of advertisers’ “we’re the best” bombardments by interpolating the alienated spectator and saying, “We get you. We know that you’re tired of seeing companies claiming that their products are far better than all the others, so we’re going to mock them with you”. In doing this, Target befriends the customer and humanizes itself. In my opinion, this technique is incredibly effective and the entire campaign is intelligent and amusing.

    Since the ad is only jokingly targeting those who live a lifestyle of luxury in everything they do, I think it is actually targeting those who live a more middle-class lifestyle. It compliments the spectator that gets the joke by saying that he isn’t ridiculous or frivolous, but smart (it’s just a light bulb, afterall). Target doesn’t claim that their light bulbs are better quality or longer than other stores; what sells this product is Target’s “inside joke” with the consumer and friendliness-their branding, which, ironically enough, is the very thing they mock the importance of.