Warren Shoulberg Blog: Less Is More ... Except When It Isn't

Posted on April 26, 2010 by HFN Staff

I sure hope Target and Walmart sell boxing gloves because they are going to need them now.

These two megamonster retailers usually co-exist just fine and are not generally known for taking shots at each other. Each has pretty much staked out its positioning and when one tries to intrude upon the other's it usually doesn't work out so well.

So an ad that Target ran this past Sunday--I saw it in "The New York Times," but presumably it ran elsewhere--is that much more extraordinary.

The headline on the ad is: "Expect more than just a low price."

And then it really gets into it.

The text makes the case that it's not just about low prices and without naming names, it clearly is pointing its red finger at you-know-who. "After all, low prices without high quality are just low prices and nothing more." The word "more" is printed in red lettering in case you missed the point ... although to be fair anytime the word "less" is used it too is printed in red.


"You should always spend less while bringing home more of the best." The text of the ad goes on to talk about design and delicious food and nice gifts.

It finishes up with: "Because when you shop at Target, less means so much more. Every day."

Hmmmm: Every day, is that the same as Always?

Maybe the average reader isn't picking up on all of this, but for anyone in the trade, subtle this is not.

But effective it might very well be. In a society fixated on paying less for something every time they purchase it, trying to tell a quality story is not easy. Target has its work cut out for itself.

But you have to love that they are trying. Just as Hallmark is running ads touting printed greeting cards as something you hold on to for years versus an e-card and Kodak is making a similar argument for photo prints versus online images, Target is staying on message--its message.

I can't wait to see Walmart's response.


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