I am definitely a sick puppy. There I was at midnight last night, watching WomenRock, the amazing Melissa Etheridge breast cancer special on Lifetime -- truly one of the most moving things I've ever seen on television -- and, with tears streaming down my face, wondering briefly at how many people were watching the show, then speculating on how they measure their success and finally thinking that whoever the sponsorship manager is at Target deserves a raise.
I've been a Target fan for awhile, in part because of their "Pink" page on their web site, and in part because they make good stuff with great style, and in part because they are the anti-Walmart. Walmart woke up way to late to realize that they really do need society to give them permission to operate and that they can't just bully their way into our wallets or buy their way to good PR. Target, on the other hand, supports causes that appeal to their main target audience, women shoppers. And they do it in a way that is tasteful, focused, and brilliant. The ads last night were understated, while their support of the cause was strongly stated.
A few weeks ago, every ad in the New Yorker featured a Target logo. Many were New Yorker style cartoons. They were funny, elegant and again, right on target (sorry) for the audience.
Last night's show was a classic example of why traditional measures of success don't work any more. Sure someone can count the eyeballs, but how do you measure the passion that the show evoked and the spillover respect that I now feel for Target and the other sponsors. How do you measure the fact that I will drive 50 minutes to shop at Target and won't ever step foot in a Walmart again despite the fact that there are three within 15 minutes of my house. How do you measure the fact that some number of people will read this blog and others and spread the word further? (well, actually, you can in fact count the links and the TrackBacks which is a measure of the social networking that's going on. Check out Shel Holtz's presentation at IABC Canada.)
And actually, if Target were to survey their customers (which they do on a regular basis) they would find out all these things. Come to think of it, they probably do measure all the above, and that's probably why they're so good at communications.