“Everything for U”: Target’s Brilliance…Part Two

Since Target has proved their brilliance once again with their back-to-school marketing and advertising campaigns, we just had to talk about it again! For years, companies have struggled to invent new and innovative ways to advertise this exciting time of the year.  However, Target has perfected profitable, long-term campaigns and has successfully created fresh, new advertising strategies.


As Thursday’s post mentioned, Target has been successfully hosting Target After-Hours Busing Events for twelve years.  Adding UNCW to its list of schools this year was very popular amongst students in Wilmington. The idea of getting to shop for trendy dorm and apartment materials after hours gives students the feeling that Target is catering to their needs personally. This year, Target took that personal touch one step further.

With all the hype surrounding live events and social media, Target decided to try their hand at it as well.  Bullseye University, Target’s back-to-school campaign, created five dorm rooms decorated with Target products that real, soon-to-be college students lived in from July 15th to July 18th.  Viewers could interact with the participants by asking questions through social media, entering drawings, and purchasing products without interrupting the streaming video.  This campaign is the perfect way to reach their target audience, college student. Target has not just promoted their brand, but has given their audience an opportunity to interact with their brand.

Advertising enforces the idea of a Commodity Culture.  Commodities are marketable items that satisfy the wants and needs of consumers.  In many ways commodities are a central aspect to a culture’s values, traditions, and meanings.  Target has mastered the idea of appealing to the Commodity Culture, especially in its Back-To-College marketing strategies.  On their Back-To-College webpage, the “…for U” theme is prevalent for every category of dorm essentials.  The home page advertises an end of back-to-school-season sale, with “Deals for U” stamped in the corner. When you click on “college bedding,” a picture of the many colorful Twin XL beds that college freshmen are so familiar with, with the phrase “Zzz’s for U” in the same position.  Target’s website is advertising the personalization aspect of their products to college students.  Making sure their dorm room, or apartment, and school supplies are able to tell the story of who they are to their classmates.  Commodity Culture states that people define themselves by what they purchase.  Target understands that young adults are finding themselves in college and want to stand out, which they encourage by allowing this personalization.


-Maggie Dowicyan, Tilson Hackley, Hilary Hall, Kelsey Raskob, Christine Schulze

18 thoughts on ““Everything for U”: Target’s Brilliance…Part Two

  1. Yes, yes yes. Commodification is a HUGELY important lense through which to look at contemporary culture. Notice that in your analysis and in Target’s campaign we are “personalizing” by buying mass manufactured and marketed stuff!!! How personalized is it when 400,000 units will be sold? BUT, this logic is so familiar to us because the entire culture is built on it. In this case it’s not necessarily bad or harmful, but in other cases–where we try to commodify ethics or integrity or faith by purchasign a t-shirt that says something clever about ethics or integrity or faith, then there might be need for reality checks. Great post.

  2. I actually hadn’t realized that they had done the Bullseye University experiment. When reading this and watching that clip, Target really does provide an experience that feels personalized. This is a difficult thing to create when there are Targets all over nationally and even online. The ability they have to make students still want to chose their essentials at Target and feel represented by it is awesome!

  3. I also was unaware that Target did this project in which they actually constructed dorm rooms and used it as a part of their Target U advertising campaign. I personally love Target, and can spend entirely too much time in one (and spend entirely too much money). They do appeal to the Commodity Culture but not just towards College Students but to multiple subcultures. Everything from their cafe, to the locations with Starbucks, to the dollar bins you pass when you first enter the store is a strategic marketing plan. I say kudos to Target, because everything they are doing is working famously!

  4. This is really interesting and creative. Target has expanded their marketing skills and now they are able to reach thousands of college students. This is such a brilliant idea that allows new college students to have such an organized way to shop and express themselves. Target is reaping in the benefits from this awesome marketing technique!

  5. I was actually able to attend the After Hours Target event for UNCW students this year. I think it was very successful in its goal of making consumers feel special. The event did not really feature any discounts but it still seemed like a personalized shopping experience that was different than the one you get regularly. The employees came up and talked to you and you also got a bag of free things like pens and small food items. Overall, I think it was a smart move on Target’s part to personalize events for college students.

  6. Like many others I was unaware of the Bullseye project that Target did. Even though I think it is a great idea, I wonder how much reach the project got. Since many of us who fit the profile did not see it, I wonder how many others missed it, too. I think the idea is smart because everyone loves the idea of something being tailored to fit their own personal style. Target is already such a well known brand that many people already like so their advertising makes them even more popular.

  7. This was a great marketing campaign! I was unaware of the after-hours shopping event but it sounds brilliant. It gives a personal shopping experience with little to no cost to the company. People want everything to be cohesive and Target provided a cohesive feel with their products from bedding to notebooks. I agree that this campaign’s target market is college students but I also think that it targets parents of college students. The parents want a one-stop shop-for-everything store and Target proves it can be that.

  8. I like the way that Target is differentiating itself from other brands that supply the same products, specifically during the “dorm rush” at the beginning of the Fall semester. I didn’t see anything like this offered by Wal-Mart– Target seems to be selling the special-ness of the experience as well as the products, while other stores lack that focus. An attractive quality of the brand is that Target has fun with its dorm promotions, as evidenced by the “Bullseye University” interactive experience. What better way to appeal to college students than to use other college students, whose testimonials will hold more weight than a basic item description could. I also think that parents would find the idea of peeking in on a mock dorm room useful in that, by seeing real kids use the products, they can imagine how their child’s experience will be improved by having a storage ottoman to keep books out of the way, for example. It can also give parents of incoming freshmen an idea of what a college dorm room might look like for their child, which is both a comfort during an otherwise stressful time and another selling point for Target, who can provide everything they might need in one convenient location.

  9. I think that Target does an AMAZING job of marketing considering they are such a huge chain store. To make a successful campaign in which everyone feels like they have a “personalised” room and everything in that room is unique to them is a difficult feat when thousands of people are going out and buying the exact same thing. To do the Bullseye University campaign I think is a very smart move because it is showing the target audience what experience they could have, and I also feel it is almost targeting our love and interest in reality television because this campaign is almost reality television in itself!

  10. When I was moving into my dorm, the first place my parents and I went was Target. At Target, we bought a lamp, a rug, a comforter, and wall hooks. I think that the reason that we went to Target instead of Walmart or Kmart was because they are so good at commercializing their product. Their commercials are fantastic, there is always back to school commercials with pictures of FABULOUS dorm rooms with beautiful accessories. From their easily accessible website to their friendly employees, Target does a wonderful job of making their brand seem like a great store with fantastic products.

  11. The idea for commodity is perfectly used in this target campaign. Target knows which type of audience they should be speaking to, in which case this is a college student, therefore they know what to have stand out in their campaign. Last year when I was first buying all the things I needed for my first year at college, I know I was attracted to the merchandise that target was selling because they made it easy for first time college students to get all the items necessary by providing a check list. This shows that Target knows what college students need, there for proving to their customers that they are reliable sources for “Everything for U.” This campaign is a perfect way to attract new college kids who are excited to buy everything they need for the next step in their life while also adding convenience and style to what can also be a very stressful time.

    • Target has done a great job making students feel as if the company is catering to them. As soon as you walk in the store there are signs that guide you through the store to find the section full of supplies and decor that you can mix and match to fit your personality. Considering the amount of Target stores, or store like it, Target takes it a step further with this experiment. Even though they are a HUGE well known brand, they are still able to make the consumer/student feel as if they have designed supplies for their very OWN personality.

  12. I absolutely LOVE Target! When I decided I was transferring to UNCW this year, the first thing my mom and I did was find the Target closest to my apartment. Target does a wonderful job at having everything a college student would need yet having enough variety to make it feel as if you have purchased a unique item that was made specifically for you. Unfortunately, I don’t think that Target did a very good job promoting the Bullseye University experiment since other students who have commented on this post, as well as myself, were unaware that is experiment took place. We fit into the age range that Target was attempting to cater to, yet the advertisement and campaign was completely missed by us.

  13. I personally love Target, but often times realize that I can get the same product cheaper at Wal-Mart. Doing Bullseye University, Target’s back-to-school campaign, they can separate themselves from their competition by showing off the quality and popularity of their products. Target somehow finds a way to make the customer feel as though their product is personalized specifically for them, when in reality there are thousands of products that are the exact same sold to college students around the country. Like many others, I have never heard of this campaign before but it interests me and would be something that I would not mind buying into.

  14. With this Bullseye University campaign, Target not only showed their customers that they have quality, modern products for cheap, but they also widened the separation gap that exists between them and their competition. Although I did not attend the after-hours special event, I did visit the store during the sale. I felt that the sale itself wasn’t that great, but that the products were quality (I found some really cute stuff). Target always does a good job of making their store and products feel personalized for the consumer. They do a good job as a company in catering to the customer’s needs, and I always go to Target first if I need something. I will say that I think they could have done a little better in their promotion efforts on this particular campaign.

  15. I think that it is absolute marketing genius for Target to zero in on college students with a campaign like this. Unlike many other readers, I actually knew about this event. However, at a campus like UNCW where freshman are allowed to have cars, and most upperclassmen have cars as well, students might not feel the need to take advantage of this after hours shopping trip. As a consumer, I appreciate the effort Target is putting forth to reach out to my demographic, and I choose to take my business there because of it. I purchase all of the things for my room at Target because they have a selection catered specifically to college students.

  16. I think it was a great idea for Target to market their stuff this way. I only shop at Target I hate Wal-Mart. The cleanness and nice people that work there makes it an enjoyable place to shop. I notice this year when shopping that there were a lot of new college students with their parents shopping. Target has made it more family friendly. Where a parent can go with their kid and shop with them for the last time before they start a new chapter of their life. This puts a memory in a person head of a happy time, a family time. When a parent shopping at Target and may be is missing there child it may give them a little smile on their face to think about shopping there.
    Jacques R. Kochen

  17. Target obviously has proved to be one the smarter big corportations out there. They not only find out what you want by tracking purchases but now this. Targeting a a young market and appealing to not only what they want but what they need as they taransition into the next phase of their life that is college. The add little tricks are also a plus like using ” U ” ann “twin XL”. They really nailed the way that they should advertise to a young demographic.

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