When I was awfully young, I remember seeing cut-off jeans for sale because it was the first time it ever dawned on me that beyond record albums and soft drinks, there were big companies that were exploiting my age group by pre-packaging the junk I was creating on my own.
Soon, even the Sears store, I remember, had a in-store boutique that the radio station said featured all the "latest uptight fashions," which was a good thing during that brief baffling moment in time that uptight meant really, really cool, as in Stevie Wonder’s song by that name.
And possibly by the end of that summer, I was rueful about mass marketing. Rueful! I hadn’t even been kissed, just about.
So you’ll understand that when I read about a series of new YouTube videos Target has produced, showing a group of college-bound people and familiar YouTube persons, giving tips about shopping for school, I really wonder, to use the vernacular of the moment: seriously?
I don’t mean to pick on Todrick Hall, one of the four Target student-performers picked to represent this dressed-as-a-guerrilla ad effort. But this will sound just like I’m picking on him.
When he appears in a Target YouTube video titled “Todrick Hall Sings Target/Best Year Ever” the result is embarrassing, and I think I can safely say that despite being old enough to be the cranky neighbor next door, or worse.
In this video, Todrick bops down the aisle of a Target store with friends Ronnie and Steven. As his cart goes through the aisles, he sings/raps “Don’t forget to get batteries/ And some hangers too/ Fresh razor blades/and just a little shampoo/And just a few of these” (a package of lightbulbs)...
And then later, to sum it all up, he sings, “We can afford it/Because we shop at Target all the time/If it ain’t from Target/ Then it just ain’t mine.”
To repeat: Seriously?
I’m not in the marketing or advertising biz, or even a video-maker, and I’m not 18 or even 28. But with 100 hours of video posted to YouTube every minute, in what fantasy world does Target exist to suppose that even Todrick Hall would watch that video?
Although that video appears in the Best Year Ever section of the YouTube Target site, it’s not apparently part of the real series, which will be multipart episodes about college life. One video gives tips about how to be a considerate gamer in your dorm room, and suggests, for example, purchasing headphones and hanging a blanket across the room to separate the noise and light from a non-gamer roommate. Pretty deep.
In the aggregate, Target
might be able to claim thousands of viewers, but, well, if that is so, I’ll eat a Target edible hat, if they happen to sell those. (I will buy it with cash, not a credit card, just to be
safe.) It’s as if Target believes no one else is wooing young consumers, and not using such a ham-fisted approach.
By 2014, you’d suppose consumer brands would know how to use social media without creating a self-defeating message. Then again, apparently not.