This Retailer’s Ads Call Out Shoppers by Name, but It’s Not Quite as Creepy as It Sounds

Cost Plus World Market gets close to its consumers

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Has Cost Plus World Market been spying on you? When the furniture and decor retailer says with some specificity that it knows how and where you live, it’s actually true. Creepy or clever? Check it out.

“Lisa and Ray Worley in the low-rise apartment near that no-frills diner on N 73rd St., you two should entertain the idea of this bar cart,” says one of the brand’s customized out-of-home ads in a new campaign from barrettSF.

“After all, this bar cart is great for small-space entertaining. And you do a lot of it. From brunch with the Becketts to your annual ‘Labor Day Lollapalooza.'”

Cost Plus and its agency went the old-school route—no data mining or social media stalking here—and simply asked consumers in San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle to opt in and share their information. The result is nearly 100 versions of the personalized print and outdoor ads.

When the brand suggests a llama lamp, it’s because a gal named Monica Kusaka really digs that mammal and warm lighting. The goal isn’t to freak anyone out (Jenn Paschall on W. Armitage, who may need a sketch desk, gave permission to be named) but to broadcast the fact that “We know your small space.”

The theme continues in TV spots, with Rehab Addict star Nicole Curtis popping up (apparently uninvited) in a few diminutive homes. She’s armed with insider tidbits about the residents’ lives that sort of weird them out, but they get over it because she arrived with good design advice and cool furniture.

“Most retailers see small living spaces as problems that need to be solved,” said Todd Eisner, creative director at barrettSF. “We see them as an opportunity to show off your individuality by curating and creating a unique home. So we decided to speak, quite literally, to individuals.”

It’s the first work from barrettSF for Cost Plus, and it includes a 40-page product catalog that’s only 2 inches tall and a fully furnished living room built on top of a Chicago bus shelter, in keeping with the tiny-home theme.

The campaign, which also includes digital and mobile, in-store displays and direct mail, will run into early September. It’s aimed at twentysomething urban dwellers moving into their first apartments and empty-nesters who are downsizing.

Client: Cost Plus World Market

Agency: barrettSF
Executive Creative Director: Jamie Barrett
Creative Director: Todd Eisner
Sr. Art Director: Byron Wages
Sr. Copywriter: Phil Fattore
Designer: Angie Hering
Sr. Broadcast Producer: Frank Brooks
Broadcast Producer: Charlotte Dugoni
Print Producer: Renee Hodges
Managing Director: Patrick Kelly
Brand Strategist: Kevin Albrecht
Account Director: Molly Warner
Account Supervisor: Lyndsey Sotwick

Production Company: Hungry Man
Director: Dave Laden
Managing Partner/Executive Producer: Kevin Byrne
Partner/Executive Producer: Mino Jarjoura
Director of Sales/Executive Producer: Dan Duffy
Executive Producer/Head of Production: Jacki Sextro
Executive Producer: Caleb Dewart
Production Supervisor: Sherra Fermino

Editorial: Arcade
Executive Producer: Crissy DeSimone
Editor: Sean Lagrange
Producer: Rebecca Jameson

Sound & Mix: One Union Recording Studios
Senior Engineer: Joaby Deal

Color: Company3
Senior Colorist: Dave Hussey

@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.