Thursday, February 17

Target Top Chef Challenge

I was a big big fan of Top Chef when it first debuted, but I have to admit that I've lost interest over the seasons. No reason, really, I just don't watch that much television and it has fallen off of my radar. But not the marketing.

A friend on Twitter alerted me to this week's episode where the retailer Target was embedded in the cooking challenge for the celebrity chef contestants.

All the chefs were in a Target store, and had to prepare something using only Target merchandise and only Target food. Briiilllaaant. You can watch a clip here from the Bravo website (notice the Target banner ad above the video!).

For years Target has been trying to up its game on groceries, and they have recently finished a huge capital improvement project to rehaul many of its stores. So the fact that they used a television show, with many very celebrated chefs, to highlight their cookware lines and food products is product placement brought to a whole new level.

When you actually watch the episode, the chefs are preparing the food right in the aisles of a Target store, so we also get to see bedding and school supplies and housewares and bottled water and a whole gamut of Target merchandise sitting right in front of us as we watch the action.

Absolutely fascinating to watch from a marketing perspective, a total brand experience completely consistent with Target and what it is trying to accomplish. And clearly consistent for Top Chef as well.

What's your experience? Jim.


  1. I also noticed on the Bravo TV site where the clip is that Target has 100% share of voice of both ad units and the preroll video ad before the clip. They really did a good job of taking ownership and while this is a clip for Top Chef it does come off feeling like Target’s clip for Top Chef.

  2. So true, Henry. A Facebook friend also pointed out that Target was running Top Chef specific advertising during the show for a full brand experience. Quite effectiveI would say, in typical Target execution. Jim

  3. After watching the episode, it felt like more of an extended target ad than the Top Chef show. And combining it with the grocery advertisements in the break was a great idea as it was able to give the viewer a full brand experience by reinforcing the brand. Any person who has watched the episode would have target stuck in their minds. I think it was It was brilliant of Target to this excellent media in such an effective manner.

  4. One downside not mentioned here... from a consumer standpoint, what came across was the DIFFICULTY finding all the tools and foods needed to cook real food beyond soup. I came out of it thinking Target was a great place to buy cheap dorm equipment, but not for a real home or meal.

    Not sure Target scored the homerun they were hoping.

    Sesame Street however... my daughter insisted we buy a Telly Monster afterwards so she could play 'cookie challenge' (already had Cookie and Elmo).

  5. Great point, hadn't thought about it from that perspective. And yes, Sesame Street scored big time! Jim.