Target’s Canada ads a ‘neighbourly’ campaign

Target has hit the bulls eye with its opening-in-Canada marketing efforts. With just days or weeks until stores beginning opening, the U.S.-based retail chain is creating more buzz with its warm and fuzzy ad campaign to show just how much it wants to be a good neighbour.

Playing on emotions close to Canadians' hearts, the ad features Target's mascot, bull terrier Bullseye, riding in a motorcycle sidecar in a country-wide tour featuring notable landmarks, from near St. John's to Vancouver.

Images range from lush, green landscapes to a lighthouse, hockey players and totem poles as Canadian band Dragonette sings its rendition of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. It is the first time ever the song has been licensed for commercial purposes.

"We really wanted a campaign spot that was really about us finally coming, and coming into the neighbourhood and being a good neighbour," said Lisa Gibson, spokeswoman for Target Canada.

"It's really about us getting to know our new neighbours and building some excitement about the fact that we're really coming close to the opening of our stores," she said.

The Minneapolis-based company's foray north of the border begins in the spring with 124 stores opening this year, an event that is expected to shake up the Canadian retail landscape, experts say. No exact date has yet been set for store openings.

Target will roll out billboard ads closer to store launches, featuring a similar "can't wait to meet you neighbour" theme that is unique for each region.

"There's images of Ontarians going about their everyday lives. That's very important for us because we want to become a part of their everyday lives. In keeping with the Target brand, it's bold. It's fun," Gibson said of the Ontario-focused billboard.

New campaign too Canadian cute?

It's no coincidence the imagery plays up Canadian stereotypes, said Ken Wong, a marketing professor at Queen's University.

The ad is an attempt to embed the brand into the local landscape, particularly given the backlash Wal-Mart experienced when it entered the Canadian market. The strategy fuses Target's eclectic brand with imagery depicting "good, fundamental Canadian values," said Wong.

"It's not as stick-to-traditional as you might think. Putting the dog in a motorcycle, with a model, the bright red lipstick, the remake of Mister Rogers, that's the kind of upscale Target brand," he said.

"It's very much on-strategy for them."

Can't Wait to Meet you Neighbour by Target Canada