Prepping for the holidays can feel like staging a production—our guests are busy making sure every detail is just right for their loved ones. And we’re making some marketing magic to help them steal the show. Our holiday campaign follows a colorful cast of characters as they prepare for The Toycracker—our modern, Broadway-style take on the Nutcracker. But more than simply giving guests a glimpse behind the scenes, we’re lifting the curtain on the big show! The Toycracker will air as a spectacular eight-minute mini musical in two four-minute segments, this Sunday, Dec. 11 at 8/7 Central during ABC’s network broadcast premiere of Frozen. So grab a seat—we’ve got your sneak peek:
Co-directors Bullseye and Kylie Cantrall (Marisol), a crew of the season’s hottest toys, super stars John Legend (The Rat King) and Chrissy Teigen (The Toycracker) and Broadway actress Isabella Russo (Clara) are sure to delight Sunday night. But, there’s more to this story…
We sat down with Target’s chief creative officer Todd Waterbury for stage directions on bringing this magical campaign to life.
Guests have grown to love Target’s holiday storytelling (Alice and the Holiday Odyssey were big hits), but this story is bigger than ever. What inspired the Toycracker?
The Holidays are a time to celebrate tradition, and that includes the excitement we all remember feeling as a child. So much of this excitement comes from the stories we tell and the magic they contain. Because this is so important for our guests, we wanted to bring them a new story about the making of The Toycracker, based on one of the season’s most recognized and beloved stories, the Nutcracker, but reimagine it and share it in ways that are uniquely Target.
In early November, just as guests start to think about their holiday to-dos, our cast was Getting Ready For The Holidays.
Leading up to Thanksgiving as guests made their holiday game plans, the crew tackled Decorating.
Then, Dec. 11, show time finally arrives for the crew. The Toycracker debuts at 8/7 Central during ABC’s world premiere of Disney’s Frozen, encouraging guests to pause in the hustle and bustle and spend time together, reveling in the magic of the season.
And just as guests finish the last-minute hustle and the show wraps, let’s just say that the cast will have a cute ah-ha moment as the curtain falls. Stay tuned.
How did your team make sure The Toycracker would appeal to all guests?
Part of what makes this campaign uniquely Target is the way we bring creativity, emotion and culture into our work. To start, we invited two of the coolest parents out there, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, to play the Rat King and Nutcracker in our story. Since kids are the heart of the season, we wanted to bring the toys and characters at the top of their wish lists to life in modern and magical ways. It was equally important that we recognize and include our Hispanic guests throughout the campaign. This included casting our director, Marisol, who is a bilingual actress, to produce our spots in English and Spanish. We also significantly increased our investment in media that reaches our Hispanic guests.
You were involved every step of the way—take us behind the scenes. What were your favorite moments as the campaign came together?
I always want us to push ourselves to continue to innovate and elevate the work we create for the brand, and this experience is one of the most connected and ambitious we’ve ever done. To witness the scale of The Toycracker set was one of those moments where you really have to stop yourself and realize it’s REAL and we truly get to bring this to the world.
My favorite moment, hands down, was hearing John and Chrissy’s first recordings of the original music written by Benj Pasek and produced by Ariel Rechtshaid. And the first sight of John’s “Ratmobile" with its purple and gold rodent bling was pitch-perfect in its execution.
You previewed the Toycracker this week—how do you think guests will react?
I always love it when reality and pop culture enter stories in humorous ways that are unexpected AND ideal to the situation. So for me, it’s the fun of seeing Ken doing what so many of us do to answer life's most vexing questions, by asking—who else—Siri!
I believe the presence and purpose Target will bring Sunday night will feel like a Holiday gift to children and families everywhere who have gathered to see the magic of Frozen for the first time on ABC.
When the curtain closes, The Toycracker is more than a marketing campaign. We hope families will enjoy this moment of magic throughout the season—and beyond.
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