Target is no stranger to TV integrations. Over the years, the brand has been featured prominently in several series, including Jane the Virgin, Revenge and Modern Family. But the retailer has rarely been woven into a storyline more directly than in tonight’s Superstore, where the brand even appears in the episode’s title, “Target.”
The integration in the NBC workplace comedy, set in a superstore called Cloud 9, is part of a year-long partnership between Target and NBCUniversal—and one that NBCU hopes to expand upon in this year’s upfront.
In the episode, store manager Glenn (played by Mark McKinney) gets into a fight with Cloud 9’s departing district manager Jeff (Michael Bunin), who says he left the company to become a manager at a nearby Target. After Jeff threatens to poach Cloud 9 employees, Glenn and coworker Garrett (played by Colton Dunn) visit Target—the episode was filmed at a Target store in Burbank, Calif.—to poach Target employees.
But the move backfires as the Cloud 9 employees begin to realize that Target is, in fact, the better department store. “Wow, it’s really nice in here!” observes Glenn.
“NBCUniversal has made a strong commitment to improving the commercial and viewing experience for our advertisers and audiences,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and client partnerships, NBCUniversal. “Target is a great partner that aligns with that commitment and values our push for more innovation in commercial experience and data targeting.”
Target and NBCUniversal have partnered all year on a variety of sponsorships and data-targeting capabilities. Last fall, Target was the first brand to purchase linear inventory using NBCUniversal’s self-serve programmatic offering, which is powered by 4C. In December, Target worked with finalists on NBC’s The Voice to create 30-second holiday music mash-ups, which aired during the show.
“To be an effective marketer, we have to be able to meet our guests where they are, and when it comes to broadcast, that can be challenging as the trend of ad-skipping increases,” said Rick Gomez, evp and CMO at Target.
Integrations like this one “have proven more effective than a traditional TV spot,” said Gomez, explaining that his company is utilizing “math and magic,” combining consumer data—which told the company that its customers were big Superstore fans—with “compelling” content to connect with audiences.
Yaccarino’s team will look for more partnerships like this in the upfront and throughout next season, as NBCUniversal will air 10 percent fewer ads in its prime-time original shows beginning this fall and will reduce its prime-time ad pods by 20 percent.
In the place of those traditional spots, the company will roll out several new ad formats, including Prime Pod, a 60-second pod available to one or two advertisers that will use artificial intelligence-based context targeting, incorporating scripts and closed captioning to make a brand relevant.