NEW YORK -- Is Target's grocery aisle ready for its close up?
Target is pushing its food, laundry detergent and other groceries in a national ad campaign that pokes fun at high-fashion advertising by featuring models interacting with everyday products.
In one ad, a model in a white dress and high heels struts by blueberry muffin and cake mix boxes that explode in different colors. Then she crushes an egg with her hand.
"Dominate that PTA bake sale," a voiceover whispers. "The Everyday Collection. By Target."
The campaign is part of a larger move by Target, better known for its cheap-chic clothing and home goods, to focus more on its grocery-store aisle. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other Target competitors also have been expanding their selection of groceries to lure more customers into stores.
For its part, Target has been expanding its grocery selection, particularly with investments in its "P-Fresh" fresh-food section. Out of its 1,782 stores, about 1100 have an expanded fresh food layout and more than 250 have a full grocery store.
With that push complete, Target decided the time was right to put the focus on its groceries, but in a way that still plays on Target's fashion know how, said chief marketing officer Jeff Jones.
Target, with ad agency Mono in Minneapolis, created the tongue-in-cheek campaign that treats groceries and home products like fashion accessories in a photo shoot. Spending is undisclosed on the ad campaign, but it will include eight TV ads that will run throughout 2013. In addition to TV spots and newspaper inserts, it will include eight TV spots, three radio ads, and digital short films that will run as banner ads online.
One TV ad shows an $11.99 bottle of Tide laundry detergent and a model in a white dress dancing fancifully.
"We all yearn for something," says a voiceover as bubbles float by the model. "And that something is the other sock."
The campaign "creates a foil for what people are used to seeing for grocery advertising," said Jones. "It combines the design ethos and fashion creditability that Target has with the idea that it also has great grocery items at a great price."
Target's ad campaign comes as the retailer faces some challenges.
On Thursday, Target reported that revenue at stores open at least one year was flat in December -- a key holiday sales period. The company, based in Minneapolis, blamed the decline in part on weakness in sales of merchandise such as furniture and electronics.
Target, which has been successful in the past by pairing up with upscale designers who create lines of products that it can sell for a limited time, also recently was dinged by bad publicity for its collaboration with posh retailer Neiman Marcus. The line debuted Dec. 1 and included 50 products from 24 designers, including a $70 Marc Jacobs scarf and a $500 Alice + Olivia bike.
But the merchandise was criticized for being too expensive, among other things, and all remaining items in that collection were marked down 70 percent off on Jan. 1.
That's quite a reversal from its Missoni collection a year ago, which was so popular demand caused Target's Web site to crash.