Target’s mascot makes a comeback
For the first time in over a decade, Target has brought back "Bullseye," its mascot dog, to star in several television ads. The New York Times says his return is part of an attempt to "revive its marketing magic after years of fading cachet."
Target, founded in 1962, introduced Bullseye in 1999 with its "Sign of the Times" TV spots and billboards that reinterpreted Target’s red-and-white bull’s-eye logo in apparel and home décor themes. Along with its limited-edition designer capsules, not focusing on discounts on specific items helped differentiate Target as the playful and "cheap chic" discounter, often leading to its "Tarzhay" faux-French pronunciation.
During the recent recession, Bullseye was mostly relegated to appearing on gift cards as Target shifted away from quirky marketing and its fashion edge to focus on value and basics, including food.
Facing heightened competition in recent years from T. J. Maxx, Ross Stores, H&M and Zara, Target has increased its emphasis on style — including its recent Lilly Pulitzer collaboration — and ramped-up marketing efforts.
While Target’s holiday campaign focused heavily on its "10-Day Deal Forecast" report starring Barbie and a gingerbread man as anchors, Bullseye has been featured in commercials along with "Star Wars" storm troopers and another promoting a kid’s holiday storybook app.
Beyond commercials, the white bull terrier is making more regular appearances at events, including at the chain’s Winter Wonderland holiday pop-up for kids that was held in lower Manhattan as well as a celebrity-populated "Star Wars" event in Los Angeles.
At the store level, the bargain-bin sections at the entrance of stores are being converted to "Bullseye’s Playground," still focusing on seasonal items ranging from $1.00 to $5.00 but adding blow-up Bullseye dolls to draw attention and bring a "fun factor" to the section. Benches have also been installed in stores to enable shoppers to take pictures alongside a plastic Bullseye replica.
"We started thinking about how to bring Bullseye to more people," Jeff Jones, Target’s chief marketing officer, told the Times. "It’s a fun dog, so scrappy and fearless."
- Target’s Dog Mascot Learns New Tricks in Marketing Blitz – New York Times
- Target pushes innovation but also promises workers it will fix basic stock problems – Minneapolis Star Tribune
- Introducing Bullseye’s Playground: "The One Spot" Gets a Makeover – Target
Do you see more positives than negatives in Bullseye playing a signature role in Target’s marketing and branding? What else should Target do to regain its positioning as the “cheap chic” discounter?