Gwen Stefani Made Me Watch a Commercial

Want to dominate your market in the next decade? Attention is the name of the game.

Keep a close eye on the transformation that takes place in the media and how big companies are coming up with creative ways to capture attention.

Excellent recent example:

Did you watch the Grammys this year?

If not, you missed the best commercial Target’s ever done. Let me explain:

They ran a commercial that was a live video shoot for Gwen Stefani’s new single.

Repeat: Gwen Stefani performed her new single, “Make Me Like You” …

she did it live in commercial space that Target purchased on the Grammys…

…and it was the actual production footage they used to create her new music video.

It’s hard to explain, so take a few minutes and watch the recording below:

I watched this live. When they announced this “live video shoot” as the Grammys were going into the commercial break, I did NOT do my typical ‘during the commercials’ activities.

I DID NOT pick my phone back up. I did NOT take my laptop out of sleep mode and start working.

I watched. Something I (and most people) aren’t doing with live TV commercials anymore.

What makes this a genius move by Target? Here are 6 observations, which you can use in your marketing too.

1. They doubled down where attention already existed.

The programming that people watch most in REAL time is LIVE programming (i.e. Sports, the news and of course, the Grammys). Target knows this, and they decided to take full advantage with a novel approach to marketing.

The attention was already there, so that’s obstacle #1 out of the way.

Target decided to make a splash and capture as much attention as they could with this ‘live music video’ commercial format. Win.

2. Native Content Trumps All

‘Native’ content has the same characteristics as the context it’s in. Example: an article in the Dallas Morning News is ‘Native’ to the newspaper format.

Not only did Target put themselves in a position to siphon attention, they did it using a native format to the Grammys – music. Not just any music, but a LIVE musical performance by a superstar artist.

The result? People who dig live musical performances (Target knew this because they’re hitting viewers tuned into the Grammys already) get more of the content they want, in the format they want, at the time they are tuned in. Win.

3. Earned Media is Gasoline on the Marketing Fire

You know what’s better than an awesome commercial? Thousands of online articles about that awesome commercial.

For every person who saw the Apple commercial (you know the one) live in the 1984 Super Bowl, another 1000 people have been exposed to the spot via some kind of news story, blog or online article. This is a textbook example the power and value of earned media.

Same thing for GoDaddy when they started their risqué Super Bowl ads a decade ago. All the critical articles that were written about their misogynistic ads? There’s another term for it:

Free $#&* advertising.

Plenty of people talked about (and wrote about) Gwen Stefani’s live music video in the days and weeks leading up to the performance and of course after the fact. Target, the sponsor, is inexplicably tied to those articles. Win.

4. Budget for Greatness

Gwen Stefani, live production, full cast, a dozen set changes, 3-minutes of prime-time national ad space in an insanely popular program…

This all costs money. A helluva lot of it. Money Target could have used to do a lot of other marketing activities.

Hell, at the very least, they could have purchased a truck-load more :30-second spots in other programs. But they didn’t.

Rather than put out another decently forgettable Target commercial, they 50x’d their budget and their effort and created something truly exceptional with longevity built in.

5. Create assets and leverage them

This wasn’t just a commercial – Target sponsored a music video – a permanent asset.

They teased it on their social media for days leading up to the Grammys, and they’ll leverage it in 100 different ways from pre-roll to social media videos to in-store promotion.

The result is mileage. This wasn’t a one-and-done fireworks show. The asset Target created has longevity, and they’ll squeeze every ounce of opportunity out of it.

(We’ll all be sick of the song and the video once the campaign is over, but we’ll be on to the next thing by then anyway)

6. Build Affinity

I like Target. I don’t love Target. But I think Target is cooler now that they used their marketing dollars in this way.

Target earned cool points with me, and I’m not the only one.

They didn’t try to sell me something. They didn’t put out the usual ad drivel. They spent money and time to bring me something of value that I appreciate and enjoy.

(Want to trick yourself into thinking that ‘cool points’ don’t matter? You’re delusional. They matter to you, your colleagues and every one of your customers and patients. Stop lying to yourself and own up to the fact that everyone spends their money with businesses they like – even you.)

You can do it too

You can use all of these tactics in your marketing on some level.

Maybe you can’t produce a live music video with a Grammy-winning artist, but you can put out valuable content in places where people are already paying attention.

And you can make it fun and valuable, earning ‘cool points’ with your audience and getting one step closer to the sale in the process.

Whether you’re marketing your small business, medical practice, fortune 500 company or even if you’re marketing yourself, go make it happen.

Nice work, Target. You hit a bullseye with this one.