Target's "Falling for You" Video Allows Viewers to Watch and Shop

It's been a rocky few days here at Video Critique HQ. Our attempts to sleep-train a precociously stubborn infant have transformed the wee small hours into a waking, wailing hellscape. At the same time, our walls are exhaling the gingery musk of somewhere between 49 and 51 shades of grey, courtesy of a full-on corrective paint job. Between the fumes and the lack of sleep, I've essentially been zombified, left wandering to and fro in a hallucinatory daze. The tree outside my office window just nodded empathetically.

So you can see how a first viewing of "Falling For You," officially billed as "A Target Style Short Film" and "the first-ever shoppable movie," might raise the addled ante even higher. Sure, some product placement is to be expected - it's what all the cool kids are doing nowadays - but who would expect a literal product parade down the right side of the computer screen? The products keep coming, one after the next, imposing themselves with the tenacity of a killer robot. I had to take a walk to clear my head, during which I wound up in a neighbor's pool.

The brackish water proved invigorating. Upon righting myself and striking a will-retrieve-garbage-cans-from-the-curb-in-a-timely-manner-in-exchange-for-a-promise-not-to-press-charges agreement, I realized that the perpetual product scroll is the whole point of "Falling For You."

I mean, sure, we're supposed to be charmed by the plight of the career-cross'd Target co-workers played by spunky-heroine-for-hire Kristen Bell and some exceptionally handsome young fellow. And absolutely, we're supposed to be hooked by the twist in the final seconds of the first installment (there are three total, with the "live event" that drives the film's plot to follow next Wednesday), which establishes a level of dramatic stakes usually absent from projects of this ilk.

But really, "Falling About You" is about selling stuff, more or less in real time. Whenever an item appears in the film, it simultaneously flashes in the aforementioned sidebar, where viewers captivated by the satchel, lipstick, watch or pants-like apparatus can click on what appears to be either a heart or a smudge of insect blood. At the conclusion of the film, viewers can buy everything they've hearted/blood-smudged and social-mediafy it to all their pals.

I'm happy to report that the technology works seamlessly; whoever coordinated the film/product synchronization did a superb job with pacing and product selection. I'm similarly impressed by the meet-cute first installment of the film itself, which transcends its generic, lonely-in-love DNA. Even the more blatant Target branding - never has a be-logo'd water bottle been more expertly positioned for maximum exposure - doesn't feel overly intrusive.

I just wonder if it's all too much. I have to remove myself from consideration, because I've got the attention span of a OMG SOMEBODY JUST SAID SOMETHING ON TWITTER. But can normally wired individuals simultaneously watch and shop? Will they want to? Granted, nobody is being asked to solve complex calculus problems while juggling chainsaws here, but maybe some people prefer a purer, more ordered viewing experience. I dunno.

Anyway, as far as content/commerce collisions go, "Falling For You" is a worthy experiment, elevated by the breezy enthusiasm of its actors and the branding savvy of its corporate benefactor. The worry, of course, is that its success could prompt marketers to go overboard with buy-this-right-effin'-now technology, which will inevitably render content even more of an afterthought. Here's hoping the first wave of imitators tread gently.

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4 comments about "Target's "Falling for You" Video Allows Viewers to Watch and Shop".
  1. Ron Hebert from The Windsor Star , October 2, 2012 at 4:31 p.m.
    Interesting. Might be my love of film but I never noticed the scrolling products until I read the entire article and replayed the video.
  2. Andrew Giordano from DoubleVerify, Inc. , October 3, 2012 at 3:37 a.m.
    I have to say, even after reading the entire article before watching the video, I fell chukka boot over heels into the content of the video and had a very difficult time following the product placements to the right. After momentary frustration around my inability to multitask (at a very basic level one might add), I was pleasantly surprised by the complete product showcase (assigned by character) which is revealed post-video. I realized that like many other viewers who wouldn't be able to follow the content and product placements, the post-video product gallery brings it all back and I found myself investigating a few products and even trying to remember the points in the video during which they might have been revealed. All in all, it was very well done - a positive user engagement experience and great content go a long way to evaporate any potential ill feelings over being blatantly product pitched. Target did a great job with this one!
  3. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct , October 3, 2012 at 3:20 p.m.
    Andrew's right that the product layout below is far more effective than the live feed. But experience makes me not a believer in entertainment work that's far too heavily product designed. "Brand stories" have been around for decades...and are really only marginally effective. Besides, the TV experience agreement with consumers is "we'll make great programming, you have to put up with some direct commercial messages...but the programming will be great". This was mediocre entertainment confused by extra product stuff. It's the far extreme of bad product placement - where the greatness of the story is harmed by working too hard to place the product (Survivor goes there regularly). As a last note, it was jarringly dissonant for me that the first hero product they showed us (the jacket) was destroyed within the first 20 seconds of the video.
  4. Rich Maloy from Flixmaster , October 10, 2012 at 1:32 p.m.
    Cute video, but (and get ready for a shameless, albeit wholly true product promotion) if they used FlixMaster they could have built a truly "shoppable movie."