IDEA: Attracted to each other but still seeing other people, online video content and commerce are the bumbling main characters in their own romantic comedy. They've flirted for years, and you know they'll get together eventually, but it's taking them forever to figure it out. It's fitting, then, that Target settled on a romcom plot for its first fully shoppable film, "Falling for You," showing off its fall fashions. Working with ad agency Space150, Target brought in Hollywood talent for the 12-minute episodic film, which stars Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Zachary Abel (Make It or Break It) and Nia Long (Big Momma's House) and was directed by Phil Abraham, who won an Emmy for cinematography on Mad Men and has directed 11 episodes of the AMC drama. For Target, the shopping technology is just as crucial as the story—and while the plot won't win any awards for originality, it claims to be the first shoppable video that doesn't make you pause the film to buy. "We talked about how, when we're watching a movie, we're always upset because we don't know where to purchase the items seen in it," said Target spokesman Evan Miller. "So, we decided to offer our guests that very option."
COPYWRITING: Bell and Abel play a couple of young, earnest Target employees whose no-nonsense boss, Long, tasks them with getting ready for the retailer's big fall style event. They start off as workplace rivals and … well, you see where this is going. Semi Chellas, an Emmy nominee who co-wrote two episodes of Mad Men for Season 5, worked on the script with Abraham. The Target clothes and accessories are also characters, of a sort, and as the scenes progress, items appear in a scrolling sidebar to the right of the video window, where users can click to "favorite" them and then review and buy them when the video ends. The merchandise includes items in the home, apparel and accessories, and beauty departments, and can be shared on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.
ART DIRECTION/FILMING: The film is bubbly and sitcom-y. And while almost everything in it is an ad, Abraham said he thinks the finished product feels almost the opposite. "What I embraced about this project right away was Target's willingness just to make a great film people could enjoy and not burden its dramatic elements with commercial content," he told Target's A Bullseye View magazine. "My vision was to make a romantic comedy that had a quirkiness to it, with relatable and funny situations, while trying to do it all in a streamlined way within the time constraints so there was still enough time to invest and care about [the characters]."
TALENT: "We approached Kristen, Zachary and Nia because we felt like they were really good fits for the roles they each play in the film," Miller said. Bell and Abel, both 32, slotted easily into their flirtatious roles. "The really pleasant surprise was how Kristen and Zach had instant chemistry, which was huge," said Abraham. "I knew they would, because that's what casting is all about. But with such a tight schedule and limited rehearsal time, it always makes me a little anxious." Abraham brought in production designer Scott Murphy, with whom he worked on The Sopranos and The Playboy Club; director of photography Mitch Amundsen; and assistant director Nina Jack, also a Mad Men alum.
SOUND: Drum- and synth-heavy music plays throughout—a spongey sonic backdrop that matches the fluffy nature of the content.
MEDIA: The first two episodes went live on Oct. 2 and 4. The third will be unveiled today (Oct. 9). The film was created as a prequel to—and to build a larger online audience for—a live finale event in New York on Oct. 10 that will be streamed on target.com/fallingforyou.
Visit target.com/fallingforyou to see the spot.
Agencies: Space150 and Olson, both in Minneapolis
Director Phil Abraham, Recommended Media