NEW YORK—Target has its bullseye on the “Hollaback Girl” singer.
Target is sponsoring a four-minute live video by Gwen Stefani during The Grammy Awards on CBS on Monday, an unprecedented move that capitalizes on the current vogue for live TV events. She’ll perform the song “Make Me Like You,” which is being released Friday.
It’s a gamble for Target, since four minutes of prime-time ad time costs millions. And most TV ads are only about 30 or 60 seconds.
It is unclear how much Target spent on the video, but a 30-second spot cost $952,000 in the Grammys in 2014, according to Kantar Media.
Ad experts say the money could be well spent in an age of short attention spans, with more people shifting to watching TV on demand and on their smartphones, capturing people’s attention during big live events like The Grammys is crucial. And attaching a star’s name to a company can have huge returns: For instance, Red Lobster said sales rose 33 percent the day after megastar Beyonce released a video mentioning the restaurant chain.
Live musical TV events, in particular, recently have been a hit. Fox’s “Grease Live” on Jan. 31 and NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” in December both scored huge ratings and much chatter on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
“These days, people can double click and delete you, so advertisers are under pressure to make their content more engaging and relevant to their audience,” said brand consultant Allen Adamson, founder of Brand Simple Consulting. “I think it’s a gamble that will pay off.”
Of course, there’s no guarantee that people will sit through the video, said VCU Brandcenter marketing professor Kelly O’Keefe. “It’s definitely risky, but the upside is you really create a stir,” he said. “Whether or not they get that upside will depend on how good the music segment is.”
Additionally, the reach of the Grammys is fading. Grammys had an audience of 25.3 million last year, its lowest turnout since 2009, according to Nielsen.
But Target is betting on Stefani, which collaborated with the company on the Harajuku Mini clothing line for several years starting in 2011. Her third studio album, “This Is What the Truth Feels Like,” which will be released March 18.
Target has been trying to stage a comeback after some major setbacks in recent years, including a major debit and credit card hack that impacted sales for several months and a misstep that led it to focus on groceries instead of the cheap chic fashions its customers craved.
But it has been turning itself around, with five consecutive quarters of increases in stores open at least one year, a key sales measure.
The sales improvements come as Target continues a turnaround plan it started after it hired CEO Brian Cornell in 2014. As part of the plan, Target got rid of its money-losing Canadian operations and revamped its management team.
“For a large brand like Target that has faded a little bit since the recession … this could be a really great step back to a higher level of relevance, to look fresher, younger and more trend-centric,” said O’Keefe.