Last night we were watching something on TV when one of the launch commercials for Target Canada came on. They have done this pool where the little bull terrier mascot gets driven around all over the country in the side car of a motorcycle. Unless you have been living in a cave somewhere you would have found them impossible to miss.
Now as product launch commercials go, this was pretty much in character with Target, whom I consider to be one of the best retail advertisers in the US. This launch commercial is cut to what I thought was a very irritating rendition of the Mr Rogers Neighbourbood theme and on the surface, it appears to be working hard to spread good will and well neighbourliness.
So far nothing too out of the ordinary. But when the commercial ended, my wife, who usually is a very glass half full type of person went on a nit of a rant, declaring that what Target was doing with this commercial was simply awful, pointing out that her takeaway from viewing this spot was that this felt very much like an invasion…they are driving through all the parts of Canada that we all love and saying…get ready…here we come. Then she went on to say that she would never set foot in a Target store, because of the negative impression that commercial created in her mind.
Now my wife is anything but crazy, so for her to interpret what looks like a very innocent commercial as somehow menacing was, at the very least, worth asking the question. So here’s the spot…what do you think? Invasion or just irritating commercial?
Target & Walmart…Poison Peas In A GoldenPod?
Now I know that companies like Target are pretty much in the same boat as Walmart, who for years now has had to deal with the reality that in every community into which they move, they displace a great number of independent businesses, while creating pretty much nothing but minimum wage jobs, while the Walton family just becomes richer and rich, as do the Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian and Korean sweatshop owners who provide the goods for these store, which, of course have pretty much crippled the American manufacturing sector. And on it goes.
And I have a feeling that this may have very well factored into her reaction to this commercial and the Target Invasion.
The question I find myself asking in today’s world is: Are the Walmarts and Targets of the world the new tobacco and booze companies? There are only a few parallels that can be drawn, but the most significant is that wherever these stores spring up, there is a very definite negative effect on the local economies.
Of course, they both have strong pro-community postures and slick PR campaigns to support those positions, and from that point of view I suppose you would have to call them good corporate citizens. But does this good corporate citizenship counter anything more than a small fraction of the economic damage these companies actually do? I don’t know the answer to that, I only know that it’s a completely valid question.
I also know I will never, it appears, be going to Target with my wife.