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Target Turns to Cause Marketing for Back-to-School Season

Effort Could See Up to $25 Million in Up & Up Brand School Supplies

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Target is looking to a cause-related campaign to kick off the back-to-school season and boost awareness of its Up & Up brand.

The retailer will give one Up & Up brand school-supply product to a student in need for each Up & Up school supply purchased between July 13 and August 2. Ultimately, Target hopes to donate $25 million worth of supplies to the Kids In Need Foundation -- a goal it will be tracking and updating consumers on throughout the campaign.

This is the first time Target has tied a cause campaign to back-to-school, said Jenna Reck, a Target spokeswoman. She also noted that if Target hits the $25 million mark it will be the single largest donation the retailer has ever made. The campaign was inspired by Yoobi, a new school-supplies brand exclusive to Target. That brand has a "One for You, One for Me" mission and also works with the Kids In Need Foundation.

"We'll learn a lot this season, whether it's a model guests like -- a model they'll support," Ms. Reck said. The Up & Up brand is relatively new to the school-supplies category and building share, she added.

Ms. Reck said Target will send out messages via social media when it hits milestones, such as $5 million donated. "It's giving us more pulse points to connect with guests in a way that's authentic," she said. "It gives us something outside of just deals that we can talk about with our guests."

The program will be supported with TV and print ads breaking on Sunday. In total, Target will air six TV spots and seven print ads this back-to-school season. Ms. Reck said the retailer's overall budget for the back-to-school season is up from a year ago, though she declined to offer any specifics. Target spent $186 million during the third quarter a year ago, which encompasses the back-to-school season, according to Kantar Media.

The tagline for its campaign, led by 72andSunny is, "Every Little Thing Is a Really Big Deal." LatinWorks handled Hispanic advertising, which includes Spanish-language TV, print and radio ads.

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