Getting on Target

Categories: Biz

Target's big boss -- guy name of Robert Ulrich, who was amazing on Vega$, no? -- is about to step down, which, says a Fortune cover story not yet online, is a big deal. (The headline: "Target's Inner Circle.") Like, it's a very big deal: "Target enters what promises to be one of the most tumultuous periods in its 46-year history, starting with a leadership change as critical as Sam Walton's retirement was to Wal-Mart in 1988 or Jack Welch's departure was to General Electric in 2001." Which is why the mag spends nearly 6,000 words charting the Target's rise from flyover discounter to megachain.

Much of the piece has to do with Target's so-called "creative cabinet," which the magazine describes as "an elite, secret team composed of a dozen people of all ages, interests, and nationalities" who send top-secret e-mails to Target's "marketing guru" Michael Francis. "Like a CIA agent's field documents, they provide on-the-ground intel dissecting, for example, anime culture in Tokyo or heralding the return of a more vintage look for Christmas in London." And not a single member of the cabinet's named in the story -- except one. And, yes, he's a Dallas resident with whom we're very familiar. The excerpt after the jump. (Update: The story is now available here.)

One cabinet member who agreed to be named is 80-year-old Liener Temerlin, founder of agency Temerlin McClain. Temerlin's qualification for membership: Francis was struck by "the way his brain worked." Temerlin suggested that Target become the founding sponsor of the AFI Dallas International Film Festival. The company signed on, and the festival, now in its second year, features a Target filmmaker award, a Target documentary prize, and natch the Target Festival Lounge. Target's bull's-eye will be on prominent display for the expected 45,000 film watchers and stars like Charlize Theron, and the festival's 700 volunteers will be wearing red jackets with Target logos. "Michael likes ideas that have legs," says Temerlin.

Even Temerlin doesn't know what other group members are up to, though, because unlike almost every other "cabinet" on the globe, Target's never actually meets. "There's no power in bringing them together as a body," Francis says. "The power is in their working independently. We're the cross-pollinator. We're the integrator."


Sounds like a Borg rap. Alas, AFI Dallas is right around the corner, for those in need of a reminder. --Robert Wilonsky



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