I think Jen is right when she says Target is speaking to an audience who can interpret the message as ironic or a social criticism of some sorts. We both interpellated the advertisement as an audience mocking the frivolous, high end culture and their niche (often stereotyped) campaign strategies. In understanding this point, we’ve recognized several set of semantics that create “taste” culture among the very privileged. In Chapter 15 of our SCA text (entitled “Mobilizing the Culturati), the authors bring in Pierre Bourdieu to speak to social mobilization by means of consumption. The chapter makes the point that it’s not enough to only purchase expensive goods to relay an expensive taste, but how you convert actual capital to culture capital. Bordieu “was interested in how they used the quirkiness of their tastes to set new fashions, offsetting the power of the upper class and traditional elites (p. 519).” Target took a tip from the famous theorist: by alluding to and playing off of the well-recognized taste tactics of “upper class and traditional elites,” the common household brand is trying to offset that dominant narrative.

But, a little ironically, this understanding resonates with a higher/elite/privileged class. To read this text as poking fun of high culture, and to be able to appreciate Target as a brand for doing so, is to have the privileged understanding of high culture. According to SCA, “Goods offer opportunities for self-expression. The symbolic aspect of goods support lifestyle construction and the articulation of taste…selecting the most expensive good is a cheap way to express taste; thus, these consumers prize their ability to use their connoisseurship to find high quality at a cheaper price (p. 520).” I agree with Jen in that because Target was able to wittingly speak to a cultural criticism, they’re now aligned with a very savvy consumer with high cultural capital.

Off that last point, I don’t know if I necessarily agree that they’re exclusively targeting a middle class demographic. In this day and age of new advertising, the very idea of high culture is muddled. Ads are always trying to “break through the clutter” for taste-makers by playing off traditional notions of what it means to communicate high class through consumption. And Target is doing the same. “Traditional luxury goods (cars, furs, caviar, and champagne) no longer invoke automatic reverence: The ads present luxury goods as a bore, acknowledging the jaded palates of their audiences. Traditional luxury goods are tainted with a sense of duty, lack of emotionality, and stuffiness–the dust of yesterday–sentiments no longer acceptable to audiences seeking novelty, freedom and distinction.” I think Target has positioned themselves with this very idea, speaking to the new taste-making class to say that purchasing “everyday” items gives you high culture capital.

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