I’m Mad for Plaid
Many of you might have noticed that Target is having a bit of a plaid moment. My all-time favorite pattern has exploded all over the store, making its way onto everything from mouthwash to clothing to lamps (in collaboration with Adam Lippes).
To promote this all-store concept they shot a series of national commercials which you have surely seen, one of which has me and my baby bump all over it. I remember being 25 years old, living in New York when Target (which wasn’t even in NYC at the time) got my attention with their ad campaigns. I don’t really remember what the particular ad was, I just remember thinking…that huge company is cool. It was up there with Nike, because they were managing to be both big/successful and creative at the same time. I think that was when they really launched as more than just a national retailer, and became a lifestyle brand (in my opinion). Since then they’ve consistently killed it in creativity and risk-taking in both their collaborations and their campaigns. In short – they make cool ads, and now I, Emily Henderson, am in one of them (and I was promised that would make me cool by osmosis, FYI).
In case you haven’t seen it (especially if you are a my college ex-boyfriend or one of the girls from high school who made fun of me for driving a used Sentra) here you go:
We shot the commercial a couple of months ago in a quick, very fun afternoon. It was a MASSIVE production with roughly 94 people staring at me as I, and my bump, cruised along with my bar/tea-cart. Typically when I work with a new production company on any video content I have a bit of nervousness going into the day – it’s like the first day of school. It’s not bad nerves and it’s not like I’m shaking or fumbling, but working with new people, with a lot of unknowns, kinda puts you on that edge between excitement and anxiety. So, for this, a national commercial, I could have been extremely nervous, but I really wasn’t. And here’s why:
As a ‘TV personality’ (I don’t really know a less weird way to say that) you generally aren’t scripted – well, at least most of the modern, cool brands (like Target) don’t script me because it can come off as pretty fake. My job is to conceptualize and write the ideas, be familiar with those ideas and the product, but deliver the information naturally and in my own words with my own inflections, almost like I’m talking to a friend. They often don’t even want me to memorize it, thank god. Despite the fact that I’ve been doing this for 7 years now, it can be strangely challenging. I’m certainly not an actor, and I would barely call myself a “performer, ” but talking about design and style to my friends (on the blog or a tv audience) is my jam.
Here’s the challenge – You need to: be yourself, be natural, be concise, be accurate, and most importantly make people want to buy the pretty product. Since I choose only my favorite brands to work with, I genuinely love this job very much – it’s fun and stimulating and challenging. In order to have people believe you, you have to believe in the product, so thank god I do. But every dream job has its stresses. You see, if I were to have an off day or struggle in any way it affects so many people’s jobs and time which affects their bottom line. It’s all on you – the faster/better/more efficient you are, equals the better the content and the shorter/happier day for everyone involved. If you are on a roll – putting off good energy, are comfortable, relaxed and on point – then everyone on set feels it. I was on the other side of the camera (doing props and sets) for years before I started hosting and I’m very sensitive to this. Basically, what I’m saying is that there is a lot of self-imposed pressure to not screw it up. So far, so good (knock on wood), but those nerves are still there.
However, for this commercial I didn’t have to say one word – which made it so light and fun. I pranced around with that cart, played with all the props in a really graphic, fun way and flipped my hair around. It was all the fun without any of the nerves. I would have been happy to deliver the Declaration of Independence fully memorized on camera for Target, but the fact that I just got to decorate the room and play with my hair (that had amazing extensions) was wildly fun.
Plus there was a manicurist on set just in case I chipped my nail art. And not just any manicurist – the pro that does Lady Gaga and Katy Perry’s nails, amongst others (you can kinda see my nail art in the photo above). There is usually a hair stylist, makeup stylist, wardrobe stylist and an assistant for each of those people, but a manicurist? That was a new level of fancy which I very much appreciated. There was even a seamstress that tailored things to my body within minutes. My dress is not actually a maternity dress, but in just a few hours they tailored a size that was too big for me and made it fit my exact 32 week pregnant body. Then the art direction of the set was amazing. It was super simple and high concept with everything being squared off, plaid, and totally striking. It wasn’t the usual lived-in, approachable and beautiful living room – it was more artful and graphic.
The fashion styling in the whole campaign was by the wonderful, smart, normal and super talented fashion editor/stylist Zanna Roberts, and my (now) friend Chris Shipman was the creative director that I’ve done many a video with at this point. It was only a few short hours, but we had so much fun.
I guess what I’m saying is thanks for the good time, guys – for putting me in my first national commercial in such an enjoyable (and very artful and edgy) way. It was certainly a very special afternoon. Every time I see it while watching a huge show (it’s been running during The Voice and SNL as well as on every network or cable channel, and Hulu) I catch my breath and get strangely giddy, then nervous, then embarrassed at my own giddiness. I can’t wait to force my children to watch it over, and over, and over again as soon as they turn into tweens and want me to drop them off 2 blocks away from school. It will go along with my “see? Mommy used to be kinda cool” lecture that I’m already scripting. Although I’m pretty sure their response will be, “uh, mom, whats a television commercial?” as they put on their digital sensory helmets and pop themselves into their own reality show, which transmits up to Mars in a flux capacitor. Whatever, Charlie and _______, I have it on tape. And you’ll probably be wearing plaid. I will
brainwash influence you somehow, I promise.
And for more Target Style from every season look here: Blue and White Sunroom | Take It Outside – Patio Makeover | How to Throw A Stress Free Outdoor Party | Patio Makeover | Charlie’s Outdoor Play Area