Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Blue Target, Red Wal-Mart

I had mixed feelings when discovering that this week's issue of the New Yorker is sponsored entirely by one advertiser: Target. (Yes, that's right, all the ads are NYC-themed cartoons sans captions, featuring the bull's-eye logo.) On the one hand, I like Target. I like shopping there from time to time. And there's a store about 15 minutes away from me via the red-and-white-themed 1 train. But on the other hand, I hate being bombarded by a mass of commercial messages. Yes, advertising is everywhere. But I feel sort of annoyed whenever there is too much of a single brand touting itself. (Like all those Chase credit-card ads on CNBC for a while.) So the net initial reaction I have to this Target campaign is negative. I guess, however, that the store's ad people are hoping that in the long run, this will just cement their image. And who am I kidding, I will probably still shop there.
On a related note, isn't it funny how Wal-Mart and Target -- both big-box discount retailers -- create such different images for themselves? And yet their color schemes seem to belie their bases. Wal-Mart, based in the red state of Arkansas, seems to be more popular among red staters, and yet it has a blue logo; while Target, based in the late Sen.  Paul Wellstone's Minnesota, screams blue state with its urban, cosmopolitan aspirations, and yet the bull's-eye is red. And while they have a lot in common at the most basic level, there are lots of people -- including me, I'll admit -- who feel justified in shopping at one and mostly avoiding the other, because the labor practices and other business practices of the one seem so much more egregious. (I realize these are broad generalizations, but isn't it interesting?)

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