Target’s Back-To-School Commercials Set High Standard For Competitors

Target and Walmart are arguably the two most popular shopping venues for back-to-school shopping across many grade levels. Studies have been conducted to see how each company’s’ marketing tactics reflect in their prices. In 2012, Time reported that overall, Target saved customers only 46 cents for every 100 dollars spent, however, “what appears to have put Target ahead, at least for the time being, is a blitz of seasonal and back-to-school discounts and promotions.”

Target has done it again this year with its back-to-school themed television commercials that are directed towards students and parents alike. The majority of Target’s commercials seek to reach elementary and middle school aged kids, depicting real-life scenarios of heading back-to-school.

Through epideictic rhetoric, Target’s back-to-school advertisements illustrate a world that children want to live in now, whether it’s going back to school with the perfect supplies or by conquering his or her fears. Many children experience a sense of ‘back-to-school fever’ and Target hones on that.

Although, the company has gone further this year, enlisting songs circa 1981 to serve as the background music of the commercials. The parental demographic likely went to school themselves during this time and can easily recognize the songs “I just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode and “Kids in America” by Kim Wilde. Target has personalized this media to parents, who will be making the purchases, by playing the songs to a more child-friendly tune. The advertisements create a sense of nostalgia for parents, encouraging them to reminisce on his or her own school days.

Song: Depeche Mode-I just can’t get enough (1981)

This connection created through the media from seller to consumer could potentially make this brand stand out from others and illustrates Wilbur Schramm’s Source-Message-Channel-Receiver Communication Model. Target serves as the source by sending out the message, which is that they offer school supplies at a low cost. These advertisements and commercials illustrate the channel and, in this particular case, the receiver is the parents.

Song: Kim Wilde-Kids in America (1981)

In the “Kids in America” themed commercial, Target also highlights a philanthropic motive through a giving campaign entitled, “Buy One, Give One.” This effort attempts to persuade consumers to buy the Target brand supplies because for each supply purchased, another will be donated to a child in need. Utilitarianism describes an effort that produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people. By deciding to shop at Target, as opposed to other stores, consumers are doing more good for a greater amount of children depending on how many items he or she purchases.

Target has made a great effort this back-to-school season to compete with other stores that have similar supplies at low costs. Do you think their tactics are effective in reaching out to publics?


-Kaitlyn Russell, Anna Joy Zima, Malia Swift