Good Work Target!

Everyone loves Target, right? They’ve got such a hold on the “well I’ll just stop by to grab hair product and toothpaste but everything here is actually cute and fashionable so, oh no, now I’ve spent $100, drat” market, it’s quite impressive. It’s an interesting feat that they’ve accomplished – being a “big box” store, but really catering to those of us that think we’re too good to be shopping in a big box store (but aren’t, obviously). I will also spend time, at some point, marveling at the homeruns some of their designer collaborations have been.

Today, though, something quick – while out with my mom last week, I saw this:

So smart, right? I’ve never seen that before – oral care right next to the candy aisle. It’s equal parts efficient cross-sell, social commentary, and shame inducing.

Well done Target!

More on Product Placement

One of the most interesting chapters of Lindstrom’s ‘Buy-ology’ was the chapter on product placement, his research showing that product placement was effective when the product was integrated into the story line, but much less so when it wasn’t. The example that he used was the product placement paid for on American Idol. Coca-Cola has profited greatly from this partnership – the signature red cups & couches, playing heavily into the narrative of dreams coming true. Ford, however, has received much less benefit because of its random logo appearances and “Ford music videos” that are just obviously commercials.

I had the opportunity to witness this phenomena firsthand. In the movie ‘Iron Man 2′, there is a scene in Pepper’s office where Tony becomes incredibly distracted by her desk ornament, the “Swinging Sticks”, to the point where it becomes a focal point as he tries to get the apparatus to stop moving.

At the time, I worked for one of the handful of online retailers that sold the apparatus – in fact, I worked at the one that the studio had purchased theirs from! (When we realized this the comic books guys all went nuts.) Within three days, the very pricey desk ornament was on significant back-order, selling more than four times the typical annual volume!, and a few other online retailers were also jockey-ing for stock.

It seems so simple – a pendulum desk apparatus – but it was so essential to the movie scene that sales of the product took off. There’s possibly also implications regarding the whole fanboy concept, but we’ll save those for another day.

Marketing Mysteries, Mad Men Style

As a marketer, I kind of hate Mad Men. For those unfamiliar with the field, whenever you meet someone and tell them you’re in marketing, the response that you get now is, “Oh, like Mad Men?” No, not like Mad Men. Advertising, and even more specifically agency advertising is just a small part of the marketing world. However, as a fan of excellence in television programming and as someone who likes to have their finger on the pulse of pop culture (and of looking at Jon Hamm), I love Mad Men.

Last week-end’s episode featured Peggy having a small meltdown prior to a big, important pitch looking for violet candy that Don had given her. The implication is, in her mind, it’s a sort of good luck charm, as well as an indication of Don’s faith in her abilities. This violet candy was a big deal for Peggy.

I was intrigued, at the time, because I am not at all familiar with violet candy; it sounded weird. (And, does violet have a taste?)

Fast forward to this afternoon, when I was checking out at Wegmans, the Wegmans that I’ve been grocery shopping at for the past seven years. There, in the checkout lane which is usually filled with all the usual, familiar candy choices, was violet candy! From what I can tell from the brief glimpse when Peggy found hers, it is the same.

Coincidence or marketing genius?

So, question time. Is this a coincidence? Was I just in a different check-out aisle than normal and this aisle catered to those with “old-timey” tastes? Perhaps the violet candy has always been there and I’ve never noticed it, but did today because of the Mad Men connection? Or, is the Wegmans team even greater marketing magicians than I have given them credit for? What are the odds that they track pop culture and rearrange the availability/visibility of products as a result? Were these candies in the front, in a prime, eye-level, check-out aisle spot because one of the store’s merchandisers is a Mad Men fan? Did my purchase of the candy (which tastes like sugary soap and smells like flowers) validate their perception that product placement moves goods?

Do consumer brands that pay for product placement notify their distributors so that products can be placed more accessibly? That seems like an obvious part of a multi-channel promotion strategy, but I wonder how often that’s executed. I would think if this was deliberate, it’s just more obvious because it’s a more obscure product.

Any experts want to weigh in? Any guesses as to if this was intentional or not? Anyone ever tried violet candy?