Target’s Holiday Campaign Brings a Magical Story to Life Across TV, Digital and Its Stores

Lego, Barbie, Minions and more make cameos

Target's taking kids and grown-ups alike on a "holiday odyssey," one that brings shopping and storytelling together in digitally fueled new ways.

The Minneapolis-based retailer's 2015 campaign from 72andSunny is rooted in a digital children's book narrated by actor Neil Patrick Harris. The story—produced in partnership with MediaMonks and illustrated by Invisible Creatures—also inspired five spots in an ongoing narrative that will be released throughout the holiday season.

"There is a metaphorical journey we all go on through the holiday time," 72andSunny CEO John Boiler told Adweek. "We're all anticipating the mystery and challenge of the holidays in front of us. But it does have twists and turns."

Throughout the imagination-fueled world, Minions, Lego people, ninja turtles, Barbie and Elmo make cameo appearances as three real-life kids work to relight a massive and magical tree. The spots also subtly and not-so-subtly weave in Target's marketing messages, such as free shipping. 

The campaign builds on Target's successes from past years, amplifying its holiday storytelling with more 60-second spots than before. Target CMO Jeff Jones told Adweek that TV continues to be an important channel in the retailer's media mix. However, the way Target approaches TV is evolving to tell better stories while still driving traffic and sales.

"Throughout the season, we'll aim to excite the kid in all of us, create powerful cultural and family moments during the season, and deliver extraordinary value and easy shopping experiences," Jones said. "This year's creative and media strategy is a beautiful blend of math and magic."

The cross-channel aspects of the odyssey will spread across digital, traditional television and real-life activation throughout the season. Here are some of the other components:

  • Target's kids' wish list app is back this year with an expanded assortment of features. The enhanced search functionality is kid-friendly, built with new games and a new feature where children can not only write a letter to Santa Clause but also get an answer back. Parents can also enter the app in an adult mode to see what their kids wants for Christmas, then buy the items directly or share with friends and relatives as recommendations. The platform is the same Target uses for wedding registries.
  • Working with Disney and ABC, Target is helping to bring back the Wonderful World of Disney. For the first time in more than a decade, "Mary Poppins" will be shown on network TV. Target says it plans to carve out enough time within the broadcast to tell its entire Holiday Odyssey story along with new content it's developing with Disney. 
  • In early December, Target will also unveil a physical Wonderland store environment in New York. Target says it will reimagine the retail experience, taking what happened in the Holiday Odyssey and bringing it to life while offering shoppable experiences.

Here's the first of the five holiday spots:

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