Target’s “Everyday Collection”: sexualizing saltines and soup

A few months ago, in my Sunday newspaper, a Target flyer arrived featuring a brunette beauty fixed with a seductive stare, cocking her head back against a box of saltines, while gripping a Campbell’s microwave soup bowl in her other hand. Unneeded sexualization anyone?

I immediately removed the page from the pile of sales ads, as it struck me as so gratuitously suggestive. Did I mention the other side of the ad shows only hairless, slender stems in white stilettos, one four-inch heel resting on the colored cap of a bottle of Tide detergent?

Welcome to Target’s “Everyday Collection”, where grocery shopping meets glamour. The aim of the marketing is to clue in consumers that a plethora of “everyday” products, specifically groceries, are now readily available at their retail stores.

The campaign cuts across various platforms — print, broadcast, and social media. Most notably are the television spots.

One commercial features a female strutting down the runway, whisk and egg in hand with bags of baking mix exploding streams of color as she parades past. It’s topped off by a seductive whisper, “Dominate the PTA bake sale. Target Everyday Collection.” Regressive, much?

I don’t know about you, but given our “women must do it all AND look great while doing it” pervasive cultural messaging, this strikes me as just another tired gender role reinforcement. Another spot features an ivory-clad cowgirl changing diapers like a fine-oiled machine.

Jeff Jones, chief marketing officer and executive VP for Target, said the attempt is to “create a foil for what people are used to seeing for grocery advertising. It combines the design of ethos and fashion creditability that Target has with the idea that it also has great grocery items at a great price.”

To some degree he is right. Calling this campaign cutting edge is bothersome. Why are we always only equating stylishness with thin white women?

Furthermore, why is sexualizing grocery products a marketing angle?

Why do we need to make fashionable and upscale synonymous with suggestive and sexy to sell? Not to mention the weary gender narrative of a female and her position of power at the bake sale or at the changing table.

These ads are not the quirky combos of Target yesteryear—the beloved Maria Bramford caricature circa Black Friday or the impassioned and goose bump inducing bus-ride rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”

The silver lining to the campaign is the social media platform piece, a “Tweet-to-Runway” event where real people (gasp!) took to Twitter to respond about the campaign with the hashtag #everydayproducts.

Favorite, and admittedly, funny, tweets were chosen and models strutted the stage with the subject product, reciting the tweet in an emotionless, mechanical narration. This seemed to render the whole idea of catwalk chic while toting coffee creamer ridiculous and slightly satirical.

As someone who has always been transfixed by the layout of every Sunday Target circular I have ever seen and who is an avid devotee of their trendy, but affordable positioning, I say bring back Bamford and ditch this sensual saltine shtick.

Heather spends her days working in the corporate business world, and can be found sharing her own experience, insights, and pop culture commentary at www.msmettle.com.

3 thoughts on “Target’s “Everyday Collection”: sexualizing saltines and soup

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  1. Wow, Target. You’ve managed to combine the offensive “happy homemaker” ads from the 50’s with the derogatory bikini-model car commercials of the 80’s (and today). “Cutting edge”? Not really. But it’s… something.

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