Target Private Brands & The Flyer Through The Years

Once a week since 1962, Target has been delivering its flyer to America’s homes. . Since that time Target’s weekly ad, which originally started as a newspaper insert, has transformed into a marketing tool that reaches more than 50 million households today. Over the last five years that marketing tool has launched, relaunched or simply featured a significant number of Private Brands from the evolving Target Private Brand portfolio including Archer Farms, Up&Up, Room Essentials, Market Pantry and Boots & Barkley. This week’s flyer includes another front-page appearance by Up&Up.

The official Target blog “A BullseyeView” took a few moments to interview Chuck Herrig, Target’s vice president of marketing and ask him about the role of the flyer and its evolution over the years. “It’s just as important today as it was 50 years ago. It’s all about what’s hot, what’s new and what’s on sale this week at Target.”

How did you first get started working on the Weekly Ad?
Chuck Herrig: I started in the store many years ago as a temporary employee during the holidays—and here I am long after the holiday season!  When I moved to the advertising department, my career goal was to become an illustrator, because back then ads were mostly illustrations rather than photography. Later, when the Weekly Ad became a bigger part of Target and really started to drive people into stores, we transitioned to all photography.

What is your role in the Weekly Ad now?
CH: I oversee the planning, creative and operations for the Weekly Ad—everything from cover decisions and content to managing our ads in more than 800 newspapers. So I’m involved from the beginning to the end.

How has the Weekly Ad evolved over the years?
CH: The Weekly Ad continues to be the weekly platform that entices guests to visit their local Target. At the end of the day, we want the Weekly Ad to be a reflection of the in-store experience, with few distractions and a clean, uncluttered approach. And now what started as a traditional medium—a newspaper insert—has completely changed. The Weekly Ad is not just print anymore, but also online. That’s where the growth is.

What makes Target’s Weekly Ad different from that of competitors?
CH: I don’t think it’s any one thing, but it is a whole lot of little things. From the way we build a page to how we shoot product or our selective use of brand logos, we try to create an impact that will draw you in. It’s also about providing the right content at the right time, when our guests need it most. We recognize that different weeks of the year drive different priorities.

CH: Has there been a standout Weekly Ad?
The one that gets the most attention every year is the Black Friday Weekly Ad. For that ad, we really have to think about how we position the door busters in store and what we’re going to do to make our ad stand out from everyone else’s in that Thanksgiving newspaper. We start planning the Black Friday ad on Dec. 1 of the previous year!

While the Weekly Ad still arrives promptly on your doorstep week after week, now you can also experience the ad on or on your mobile phone and tablet.

Below, watch the evolution of the Weekly Ad over five decades, starting with the first archived ads. Pay close attention to the graphics, fashion and prices (sirloin steak for 87 cents!) and of course the Private Brands.

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.