Target's Christmas Champ Is Back -- And Answering Our Questions

Holiday Spokeswoman on Her Black Friday Strategy and Her Beef With Progressive's Flo

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That crazy Target lady is back.

For the third year, the perky, blonde, hyped-up Christmas shopper will be promoting the retailer's 2-day sale, which kicks off on Black Friday. Since debuting in ads in 2009, comedian Maria Bamford, who has ties to Target 's hometown of Minneapolis, has polarized consumers. Fans love her Rocky-esque approach to preparing for the holidays -- bicep curls with shopping basket, wind sprints in heels -- while detractors find her, well, annoying. And that has made the "Christmas Champ" an online hit, landing Target 's 2-day sale campaign on Ad Age 's Viral Chart at No. 2 in early December last year.

"The Christmas Champ strikes a chord with guests, because her quirky obsession with Black Friday represents a small part of consumers' passion for scoring Black Friday deals," said Will Setliff, senior VP-marketing at Target .

Fans have created Facebook communities dedicated to the Christmas Champ character, Mr. Setliff said. And there was a proliferation of derivative spoofs on YouTube last year. One of the more popular videos showed a woman bench pressing a baby, racing down Target 's aisles, and pushing a stroller through a Target parking lot while simultaneously pulling a man in a shopping cart.

The Christmas Champ is sure to inspire more of the same this year, presenting consumers with tips such as "Visualize Your Path," "Use a Utility Belt" and "Draft to the Doorbusters." She's also tweeting holiday tips at @ChristmasChamp, though she's holding her cards close to her sparkly, red Christmas sweater. Asked where she learned all of her Black Friday tricks of the trade, the Christmas Champ simply said, "a lady never tells."

Other ads feature the Christmas Champ frosting cookies, sipping hot cocoa in a room surrounded by lighted reindeer and sitting in front of a fireplace while chatting up a lighted plastic Santa. But if you're wondering what the Christmas Champ will be snapping up come sale time, she's keeping mum. "My list is between me, Santa and 1,767 Target store managers. I sent each of them my list and they better be checking it thrice," she told Ad Age .

The campaign, which begins Wednesday and will run through Nov. 24, includes five broadcast spots, five digital spots and more than 20 pieces of online content that will be seeded via social media. Wieden & Kennedy is Target 's creative agency.

Here, the Christmas Champ chats with Ad Age about her Black Friday strategy, avoiding sale-time injuries and Progressive 's equally perky Flo.

Ad Age : What did you do this summer?

Christmas Champ: After relatives forced me to take a six-day rest period in January to deal with some personal issues, I've been prepping hard for the holidays, gearing up for Target 's 2-Day Sale. I combed the country, visiting every Target store to determine which one will optimize my opportunity for success on Nov. 25. I've also been busy hand-making glitter, forging my own tinsel and learning how to code websites in a more festive manner. Check out some of my handiwork @ChristmasChamp on Twitter.

Ad Age : This year Target is opening earlier than ever -- at midnight. How does that impact your Black Friday strategy?

Christmas Champ: The strategy itself remains the same: Know thy self, know thy enemy. Following a hearty Thanksgiving meal -- and by meal I mean a 7 a.m. breakfast -- I'll be the first one in line at my super-secret Target location to execute my store route to perfection. I have my track suit dry cleaned and will have "It's a Wonderful Life" playing on my portable DVD player as I wait in line.

Ad Age : Sprinting ahead of other shoppers in high heels, decorating countless cookies, decking the halls -- it's all pretty physical work. Have you ever had any Black Friday or Christmas-induced injuries?

Christmas Champ: I'm passionate about eating right and training in appropriate attire throughout the year to avoid any sale-time injuries. Elf Grease has wonderful, all-natural healing powers to sooth my tired muscles. I also recommend nutmeg-based hydration. You should try it. I always have an auxiliary pair of heels so I don't waste a minute en route to the deals.

Ad Age : If you could choose anyone to be your Black Friday wingman or wingwoman, who would it be? (I can't help but think that you and Flo from Progressive would really get along.)

Christmas Champ: Flo and I don't speak; she knows what she did. There's really only one option for a wingman and that 's Santa. I mean, who else knows the art of getting in and out of a space unnoticed?

Ad Age : You've gotten pretty popular with customers in the last two years. Have any other retailers tried to lure you away from Target ?

Christmas Champ: I don't know what you're trying to imply with "other retailers" but quite frankly, that 's not the kind of girl I am. I would never think of leaving Target -- I am one with the Bullseye.

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