More on Target Rounders

I dug a bit more into Target Rounders (first post here) – Target Corp’s undercover Word of Mouth Marketing operation – and found a few nuggets:

Application Process

The application form at is EXTENSIVE. They ask college students for tons of personal information: name, address, date of birth, gender, URLs to their profiles on every social networking site (facebook, myspace, friendster, etc),

And questions to help determine how influential they may be: how many online friends they have, number of IM buddies, numbers stored in their mobile phones, how many people they invite to parties.

Then they find out what their applicants may be willing to do for Target:

If you were selected for the Target Rounders which of the following activities would you most like to participate in?

-Give out samples to friends and classmates
-Forward offers to friends with IM, email, messaging and social networking sites
-Product feedback and reviews
-Graphic design
-Research panels and surveys
-Talk to new people about Target
-Report to Target on the latest trends

Is the applicant an influencer? Here’s how they try to find out:

How would you describe yourself in your circle of friends?
-I decide what we’re going to do. Period.
-I’m usually the one that turns them on to cool new stuff.
-I usually keep more to myself
-I’m a team player and I’ll be up for whatever my friends want to do.

Here’s an example discussion from the Target Rounders Facebook group where a few Rounders discuss the best way to promote free mint samples they’ve been sent:


Privacy Policy

Their privacy policy states that they may “share” user data with other divisions of Target and companies outside of Target. Of course, it also looks like they copy/pasted the privacy policy from, so it’s not clear that any work was put into making it applicable to Target Rounders.

Related Word of Mouth Marketing Programs

The firm running the Target’s Rounders campaign is New York based marketing firm, Drillteam. They run similar campaigns for Virgin Mobile (Insiders), and the Microsoft Zune (Masters). Their motto is, “Collaborating with Young Adults to Build Brands.”

Time to Open a 2nd Flank in the Battle for Coolness?

Personally, I’d like to see Target start a sister program for Target Rounders called Target Sharpeners. Target Sharpeners would work to make sure the Target brand isn’t associated with uncool people.

First, stores would give plain bags rather than bags with Target logos to uncool Target shoppers (homeless, disabled, overweight, old people).

Second, they’d identify influential losers and steer them toward competitor’s stores by intersecting them in front of Target stores and offering them Wal-Mart gift certificates if they’d immediately leave the property.

There’s more than one way to build brands, ya know.

10 thoughts on “More on Target Rounders”

  1. Seriously gross. I could go on and on about what kind of message this is sending to the 14-23 demographic, but I’m reminded of how fiercely the credit card companies target kids who graduate high school and realize that it’s not a whole lot different or worse, and that shit has been going on for decades.

    But it gets better! They dig into someone’s life to basically find out if they’re cool or popular enough to be fucking ROUNDER. For Target. I don’t care how cool you think you are with your many friends in your online social networks, phone numbers in your celly or the size of your IM list, if you’re a Rounder, you’re a total douchebag loser. In my humble opinion. Way to promote that MySpace “Friend Collector” attitude, Target.

    Yeah I just can’t think of anything better than arriving to a party at a friend’s house and having them push product in my face. What kind of person does that to their friends? A person who gets a kick to the nuts from me, that’s who.

    I’m morbidly curious to browse their forums but I’m afraid of what I’ll see there. I have enough hate in my soul.

  2. The entire corporate/marketing process fails the classic ethics test ‘if you would not want to read about it in the paper, then it is not ethical’.

    And since they actually instruct their round employees to keep it secret, thus they have built a de facto argument that ‘they know their actions are unethical’.

    As for rounders themselves–‘sellouts’ is more like it, and they gave away not only themselves, but their friends in the process…not only their wallets, but much worse, their friend’s DATA. When it comes to data privacy, these people have failed to protect themselves or their friends. Most people wag a finger at the government for not protecting sensitive information…then they give it away to marketers frivilously and without any assurance of security or ethical use.

  3. Target makes you feel cool for wanting a product then makes you feel cool for buying it at Target. And if you’re like most other Americans you are blissfully unaware that you have been manipulated and are a slave to a system that was created to serve us.

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