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Target Wins Hearts of Pinners with REAL Women Swim Models

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Thoughts & insights about various digital marketing, SEO, branding, UX, design, & photography. Get a peak at my latest projects here!

 

Target Wins Hearts of Pinners with REAL Women Swim Models

Sheena Schleicher

I encounter brilliant marketing on a daily basis - it's just part of life as a digital marketer. When a brand makes a genuine connection with me, I get excited and often try to work the tactic into the brand marketing campaigns I'm involved with.

No matter the emotion - sad, happy, surprise, anger - my reaction and how they made me feel is what I end up remembering most about their message. And brand experiences that connect to us as humans--real people with real needs--and who show us they care enough to listen and get to know us, their consumers, are the brands that win our hearts. That's why I'm taking the time to shine a little light on Target.

This morning, while enjoying my daily routine of coffee, emails, SportsCenter, and a little social media perusing (yes, all at once), I noticed something fairly unique in my Pinterest feed. Amongst the endless stream of recipes, DIY projects, fashion tips, hair/makeup how-tos, and 'get this body' photos, I noticed Target had posted a series photos of women in swimsuits:

Woah, a major retailer is using models that look like REAL women? I was immediately engaged and, as a photographer with decent Photoshop skills, I wanted to inspect the images more closely.

I'm impressed! While the photos likely went through some post-processing for light adjustments and maybe fly-aways, Target let these women be themselves - curves, stretch marks, tattoos, and all! Beautiful, healthy women who are happy in their own skin. Better yet, they chose women to represent their brand that--wait for it--resemble their customers!

And look- they're attempting to represent and connect with women of all shapes and sizes:

To give you some insight about how this made me feel... I consider myself to be in pretty good shape. I'm active, eat healthy, and have an average BMI for my 5'7" / 125-130 pound frame. BUT, like all women, I still have moments when I don't like my body. And Pinterest does not help this very common struggle since it's so much about dangling all the things you wish you were / were able to do / could look like / etc. to obsess over. And it's endless.

But this time on Pinterest, thanks to Target, was a little different. Instead of the usual very beautiful, very thin, 'not an ounce of fat' models I'm accustomed to seeing model swimsuits, I saw very beautiful, very happy swimsuit models who were not all a size 0. For once, I wasn't immediately comparing my body in a negative way and could even see myself in one of their suits. In a strange way, I actually felt better about myself!

What I saw next, and what really inspired me to write about this, were the reactions of other Pinners in the comments section:

I'm sure you see my point. Target is connecting with women (their 'target' audience) in a way that not only elicits a response, but that boosts their self-esteem - and I can't think of a better way to make someone love your brand.

Now the cynical side of me would say something like, "Great! Another brand figured out a way to make money off of highly sensitive issues women deal with. They don't really care!" While I doubt Target's motives are anything close to this, I do think it's important that we're all aware of the rise of emotion marketing. In this case, though, Target brought a little positivity to a world where body-shaming is rampant, so I don't think the motives matters much.

A few very important notes...

Before I close, I want to make it clear that body-image is not a women's issue, and it's not something that only curvy people encounter. In fact, I'd call it a problem with retailers and marketers, not men or women or lighter or heavier people.

As a marketer who works with a number of lifestyle brands, I feel a certain responsibility to push for more realistic representations of beauty, health, happiness, etc. If you consider yourself a marketer, digital or otherwise, I encourage you to push brands to realize the value of empathy.

As a marketer, I say "Bravo!" to Target for taking the time to understand who your customer is and for making a concerted effort to connect with them. And as a woman, I want to say "thank you" for using your pull to help women everywhere feel just a little better about themselves.

What do you think about Target's effort to connect to their audience and sell their product? Let me know in the comments below!