Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Is Target the New Scrooge?

posted by Nell Minow

Is anyone as bothered by the Target Christmas commercials as I am?

They have a series of commercials reflecting tighter economic times by emphasizing their low prices. Great, I’m on board with that. But these commercials would be sour and tawdry at any time of year and seem even less so at a time that is supposed to be about generosity and family closeness. The theme of these commercials is that someone is unhappy with a gift because he or she thinks it cost too much and so feels uncomfortable and unworthy. Take a look at this thoroughly un-charming family tableau:


This is very unusual; typically, a commercial is a 30-second story with a happy ending. Someone gets good advice on a laundry detergent or insurance policy and is grateful — a bonding experience in half a minute. Christmas commercials usually show people thrilled to receive wonderful gifts that perfectly communicate connection and intimacy. Target’s commercials, though intended to be humorous, leave the characters feeling awkward and estranged, and I suspect the audiences as well. They certainly leave me wanting to stay as far away as possible from Target and promote the idea that bargains lead to bad feelings, not good ones.

  • Dave

    I’m usually a fan of Target – they are my favorite cut-rate department store. But I agree with your assessment of this new ad campaign. The first one I saw was the couple arguing over how “Santa” had spent too much on the plasma TV and thought it was … creepy. And the rest of the ads in the campaign aren’t a whole lot better.
    I wish they’d go back to the ads that were more like MTV videos with just people and things dancing, and the dog that looks remarkably like Petey from The Little Rascals. Those were fun. These are not.

  • Nell Minow

    Creepy is the word, Dave. That plasma TV ad gave me the willies. I hope Target goes back to their fun, upbeat ads soon!

  • Stan

    I’ll be the dissenting voice. I enjoy their commercials and find them far more entertaining than the endless filking of carols to promote computers or cars (Best Buy, Chevy) etc. About the only other series of ads I find tolerable are the one from Old Navy (the mannikins).

  • Nell Minow

    Always glad to hear from someone who disagrees with me, Stan! You won’t be surprised I don’t like the Old Navy ones either. For me, the best commercial of the year is the little girls in the Gap commercial.

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