Master storytellers

Target reveals what it takes to create a best seller

Target created the world’s first ads which require audiences to solve a crossword puzzle to reveal the headline. This interactive campaign rewarded curious-minded travellers dreaming about escaping lock-down. The ads became the pastime. High involvement made this chapter another best seller.

When asked “what’s new? ”Target founder Noel O’Dea doesn’t skip a beat. “Well, this morning I saw God walking around Newfoundland,” he replies. “When I asked why, God said, ‘I’m working from home today.’”

It’s exactly the kind of response you’d expect from a natural-born storyteller.

No surprise, then, that Target repeatedly tops Canada’s best seller list when it comes to travel and tourism. AOR for Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism since 2005, Target is the author of “Find Yourself,” which O’Dea notes has won more than 400 awards for creativity, brand building, and advertising effectiveness, and has dramatically reshaped brand perceptions of Newfoundland and Labrador.

‘Soundtrack Builder’ is an innovative brand engagement tool created and produced by Target. Users create custom 0:24 video stories by selecting from hundreds of pre- recorded sounds, each synced to video clips, with a simple click, drag and drop. Over 30,000 custom videos were created, and user sessions averaged seven minutes.

“Find Yourself” has stayed true to Target’s original brand positioning and creative platform. Targeting highly literate and sophisticated travellers, each new story episode in this 16-year campaign positions Newfoundland and Labrador as an exotic and creative place unlike any other – an enigma wrapped in intelligent wit and humanity.

“Chapter by chapter, we’ve been relentlessly building powerful brand equity in the marketplace,” says Catherine Kelly, Target’s director on tourism. “With masterbrand continuity, we can leverage modest advertising budgets to deliver outstanding business results.”

“Many brands are restless, always searching for something new and shiny or trendy,” says O’Dea, director of strategic and creative planning. “We invest in upfront thinking to discover the elusive source of a brand’s differentiation and competitive advantage – and we make that truth the heart and soul of the brand’s story.” Kelly adds, “Storytelling is a powerful business tool.”

The 40 storytellers at Target who created the concept of St. John’s “Jellybean Row” of brightly colored houses and invoked the “Flat Earth Society” in a campaign romancing the destination, have been equally innovative in the digital world – creating, which uses NASA satellites; harnessing mobile phone gyro technology and contextual geotargeting for “Explorers Wanted” to curate #ExploreNLTour pic sharing on Instagram; and convey the unique spirit of Newfoundland and Labrador through storytelling at with tales such as “The World’s Shortest Story.”

For Work Remote NL, Target geotargeted professionals seeking to escape the pain points of urban life. This multi-media campaign married logic with emotion, targeting vertical industries conducive to working remotely, using mobile tracking to target commuters, and employing social listening to reach people with lifestyle and affordability angst.

Of course, it helps that the agency is self-sufficient and fully-resourced in-house with media sitting side-by-side with digital planning and production.

But strategy’s inaugural Agency of the Year winner is known for more than tourism; Target’s client list spans airlines, beer, cannabis, retail gas, CPG and financial services.

Using the humanity and wit for which both Newfoundland and the agency are known, Target’s been inventing, naming, branding, renovating, launching and growing brands since 1980. And it continues to help clients reap the rewards of a story well told, and make the cash register ring.