Love the Cause Marketing, Hate the Ad

As a marketer and a consumer I love Target. The house brands are terrific. The Target I shop most frequently seems to have more checkers that any Walmart I’ve ever been in. I love all the 'cheap chic' they sell. And their branding is dynamite. That big red bulls eye, the funky, super-visual TV ads, the 5% of income to charity. The partnerships with St. Jude and other nonprofits. It’s all great.

Of course in the great recession Walmart’s still kicking Target’s can, even though Target swears Walmart’s prices aren’t any better. Sometimes it seems to me that a contributing factor to Walmart’s continuing domination of Target is that all the damn branding Target does sometimes gets in the frickin’ way.

Case in point is this ad from the August 30, 2010 People magazine.

The promotion involves Baby Buggy, Jessica Seinfeld’s 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that donates infant and baby supplies to homeless shelters, parent programs, court child centers, and the like.

Throughout the year-long promotional period when you buy something from their special line, Target will donate 10% of the purchase price to Baby Buggy to give to participating charities. Target’s minimum donation is $300,000 and the maximum is $500,000. Supporting sponsors include Avent, Boppy and Kimberly Clark.

The Baby Buggy-branded onesie the infant is shown features illustrations from the artist and book illustrator Maira Kalman. Other artist/designers will be featured during the promotional period.

Too bad Kalman, or someone else with sense, didn’t get a hold of this ad. The headline is in white type! The explanatory text is in white type, too. But it’s so small I had to get my school-age daughter to read it to me. Remember those stories of high school kids who set their cell phone ring tones at frequencies their teachers couldn’t hear? That white type is sorta like that.

Maybe that’s what Target had in mind, ad copy so small only young mothers in bright light could read it. But not every new mother is 22, or standing in the bright sun when they read People magazine. And grandmas buy infant clothes and supplies, too.

Or maybe that half bulls eye just above the body copy is so stupidly big that the art director for this ad had to shrink everything else down to get it all in.

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