Natural born storytellers reel in national brands with humour, humanity and fresh ideas
Account planning pioneer Stephen King had a rule for successful advertising: it must have a combination of sensory, rational and emotional appeal.
Target’s long-running “Find Yourself” campaign for Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism has all three: the sensory appeal of Newfoundland’s dramatic coastline and colourful architecture; the rational appeal that makes you ask, “What am I waiting for?”; and the emotional appeal of its famous humour and humanity. These powerful ingredients have won the campaign 400 awards since 2005.
Target remains proudly rooted in Newfoundland. Fiercely independent, it avoids the well-worn path of other agencies that start out regional, relocate to Toronto or New York, and sell out to multinationals. “We still report to nobody but our moms,” says Noel O’Dea, who founded the shop in 1980.
“Newfoundland itself is our secret ingredient, our most powerful differentiator,” says O’Dea. “We can see things differently here. And that changes how we think and how we go about solving clients’ problems.” Over the past 40 years, that unique point of view has attracted clients such as Unilever, Maple Leaf Foods, Rogers, Bell, Molson, Labatt, and Air Canada brands Tango, Zip and Jazz.
Target may be small and nimble, but it’s plugged into the zeitgeist. One headline from its latest campaign for Newfoundland and Labrador asks, “On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you working from the kitchen table?” A stunning shot of exotic coastline is followed by the tagline “Embrace a new normal. Work Remote.”
Even a client as formal as Canada Revenue Agency leverages Target’s creativity and quirky humour. Its “Voice of Reason” national TV and online campaign drove 5.6 million YouTube views in 10 weeks, and generated over 80 million impressions. Storytelling gets attention, and results.
Reflecting the humanity Newfoundlanders are famous for, Target’s “Inuit Child” campaign for Indigenous Services Canada makes a strong emotional appeal to young Inuit parents and grandparents. Demonstrating cultural sensitivity and respect for Indigenous culture, Target executed the multi-media campaign in the Inuktitut language as well as in English and French, generating a 1,700% increase in month-over-month website visits.
All this humanity and humour has earned Target significant industry recognition, including bragging rights as strategy’s inaugural Small Agency of the Year in 2019, and a long-standing berth on strategy’s Creative Report Card. It’s one of few Canadian agencies to win a Cannes Gold Lion, and it’s won multiple Gold CASSIES for advertising effectiveness, including the Grand Prix.
Seems like taking the road less travelled leads to impressive results, for both Target and its clients.