Sunday night’s Grammys may have marked the official television debut of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” (not to mention album track “Pusher Love Girl”), but the real surprise was the news that Target would be carrying an exclusive deluxe version of his hotly anticipated album, “The 20/20 Experience,” with two bonus cuts—“Dress On” and “Body Count” —only available at Target stores The album will be released March 19 and is also available for pre-order at Target.com.
How did Target score the coveted tracks? By having a “history” with the singer, as Timberlake put it in a statement about the new partnership, that dates all the way back to 2003. That’s the year Target sponsored Timberlake’s tour with Christina Aguilera, the Justified and Stripped Tour, and a full-length exclusive compilation CD, “Justin & Christina,” that featured previously unreleased tracks from each artist. The retailer continued its relationship in 2010 by partnering with Timberlake’s fashion line William for a special Target collection around the holidays.
“We knew our guests would be watching and talking about the Grammys, so we wanted to be part of the conversation by unveiling our new music partner, Justin Timberlake,” Anne Stanchfield, Target’s divisional merchandise manager of entertainment, told Billboard. “Target strives to be on trend, on time. We look for unexpected ways to connect with our guests, so we were excited to unveil our partnership with Justin through the commercial and social media buzz before and after his performance.”
Stanchfield said discussions with Timberlake had been going for “the last few months,” and that the commercial was filmed at the end of January, albeit shrouded in secrecy. “Everyone involved knew that the Grammys would be a big moment to announce the partnership, so confidentiality was taken very seriously,” she says. Though she hasn’t heard the two new tracks, Stanchfield says “everything on the album that I have heard is fantastic, and I know the exclusives will be as well. Target is thrilled to be the destination to bring Justin’s fans more of his great music.”
Target was once again the exclusive retail sponsor of this year’s Grammys, and was its most active sponsor – airing upwards of a half-dozen spots throughout the telecast to promote its $10 sales of exclusive albums from Taylor Swift and Pink as well as debuting ads for its Spring Style and Prabal Gurung collections. This year’s ceremony marked Stanchfield’s first official Grammy Week in her new role at Target, having just become head music buyer in January. “I had a wonderful time,” she says. “Beyond the Grammys, it was wonderful to attend the Billboard [Power 100] event on Thursday and the MusicCares tribute to Springsteen. Also, I was able to spend time meeting the various labels and distributors with whom I hope to continue Target’s legacy of supporting the music business.”
In addition to Timberlake, Pink and Swift (whose exclusive “Red” release became Target’s best-selling first-week title ever in October), other recent exclusives include One Direction’s “Take Me Home,” Tony Bennett’s “Viva Duets” and the current Billboard 200 No. 1, Josh Groban’s “All That Echoes.”
Also confirmed for the Target treatment is Mindless Behavior’s sophomore album “All Around The World,” out March 12. Earlier Thursday, the group announced a partnership with Target in which fans could help write an additional verse of the album’s title track for an exclusive fan-edition of the song that will be available as a free download with purchase of the deluxe edition. The Target edition of the album will come with four exclusive original songs.