Target Timeline: Through the Eras of Target Marketing

October 8, 2012 - Article reads in
weekly ad

Once a week since 1962, Target has been making house calls.

Target’s Weekly Ad, which originally started as a newspaper insert, has transformed into a marketing tool that reaches more than 50 million households today. That’s a lot of ads and even more deals on everything from apparel and accessories to dog food and detergent.

“The Weekly Ad has become an integral part of how Target communicates with guests,” says Chuck Herrig, Target’s vice president of marketing. “It’s just as important today as it was 50 years ago. It’s all about what’s hot, what’s new and what’s on sale this week at Target.”

While the Weekly Ad still arrives promptly on your doorstep week after week, now you can also experience the iconic ad on or on your mobile phone and tablet.

Below, watch the evolution of the Weekly Ad over five decades, starting with the first archived ads. You’ll get a kick out of the graphics, fashion and prices (sirloin steak for 87 cents!). And read on for our interview with Chuck Herrig, who helps Target deliver deals to your doorstep.

How did you first get started working on the Weekly Ad?
Chuck Herrig: I started in the store many years ago as a temporary employee during the holidays—and here I am long after the holiday season!  When I moved to the advertising department, my career goal was to become an illustrator, because back then ads were mostly illustrations rather than photography. Later, when the Weekly Ad became a bigger part of Target and really started to drive people into stores, we transitioned to all photography.

What is your role in the Weekly Ad now?
CH: I oversee the planning, creative and operations for the Weekly Ad—everything from cover decisions and content to managing our ads in more than 800 newspapers. So I’m involved from the beginning to the end.

How has the Weekly Ad evolved over the years?
CH: The Weekly Ad continues to be the weekly platform that entices guests to visit their local Target. At the end of the day, we want the Weekly Ad to be a reflection of the in-store experience, with few distractions and a clean, uncluttered approach. And now what started as a traditional medium—a newspaper insert—has completely changed. The Weekly Ad is not just print anymore, but also online. That’s where the growth is.

What makes Target’s Weekly Ad different from that of competitors?
CH: I don’t think it’s any one thing, but it is a whole lot of little things. From the way we build a page to how we shoot product or our selective use of brand logos, we try to create an impact that will draw you in. It’s also about providing the right content at the right time, when our guests need it most. We recognize that different weeks of the year drive different priorities.

CH: Has there been a standout Weekly Ad?
The one that gets the most attention every year is the Black Friday Weekly Ad. For that ad, we really have to think about how we position the door busters in store and what we’re going to do to make our ad stand out from everyone else’s in that Thanksgiving newspaper. We start planning the Black Friday ad on Dec. 1 of the previous year!

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