There's something about big box chain Target's cards
Apparently, I’m not alone in thinking that Target gift cards are the best thing ever. There are websites dedicated to gift-card collecting, and of course, countless eBay sellers offering starter sets for novice archivists. For the most part, a gift-card collection takes up minimal real estate in the typical congested city apartment, allowing one to focus on quantity without displacing small children or precious pets (or precious children and small pets).
The Target cards next to those juicy gossip magazines at the register are pretty swell, and help make up for the fact that Aunt Gail ran out of birthday shopping time, or has absolutely no idea what her loved ones love. But poke around a little harder and you might come across the Target gift cards that truly keep on giving.
Consider the Bullseye Flyer (above). It’s more than a gift card—you construct a freakin’ plane that sits on its very own runway. The recipient gets a pilot’s license, plus however much cash Aunt Gail is willing to put on the card (at least $5, according to the store).
And Aunt Gail becomes cool, thoughtful Aunt Gail—so everyone wins.
Target introduced its first gift card in 1999, and by the early 2000s, it was offering innovative designs with patented technology. It now has more than 100 patents, including those on light, sound and interactive elements such as pull-apart cards.
Ted Halbur is the manager of Target’s in-house creative team, and the king of all things gift cards (at least to me). “The early 2000s were fun and exciting, because not much had been done with Target gift cards yet,” he says. ”Basically, at an industry level, there wasn’t a lot of innovation. It was pretty much just cool graphics and fun printing techniques. We wanted to change that. We wanted to make gift cards more personal.”
Halbur worked on a wide variety of projects at Target, with talented package designers, writers, art directors, product designers and more. “Realizing that we had such great minds from such different areas, we decided to join forces,” he says. “Doing so allowed us to speak to Target guests in many ways—rather than from just a single point of view.”
Gift cards go from concept to execution in a pretty straightforward process. “It’s actually pretty simple,” Halbur says. “The assigned Target creative team spends a few weeks working on ‘white paper’ ideas. From there, we select the top ideas and spend time sketching them out. Next, we start whittling the list down to our absolute favorites. After that, we polish our sketches and present to the client. Once approved, we work with an illustrator or photographer to see what they can add to the mix. After the art is finished, we work with our print buyers to help bring the card to life.”
Halbur continues, “Honestly, we just do our best to come up with ideas that make us smile. Along the way, some of those ideas end up getting patented. The Target team is constantly looking for the latest innovations, whether it’s a blast from the past or the newest gadget. We look everywhere from crank machines to toy aisles. We never stop searching.”
Of course, I had to ask Halbur if he had a personal favorite. “Fortunately, there are too many to list,” he laughs. “But one I’d put right up at the top is Target’s ‘maze’ card. It was the first gift card that really got us thinking: If we can do this, what else can we do?”
More Related Stories
- What's 2013's "Gone Girl"? Here are this summer's best reads
- Fox executive behind "Does Someone Have to Go?" leaving the network
- Hillary Clinton memoir shows up on Amazon
- A brief history of Jennifer Weiner's literary fights
- First look: Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard shine in "The Immigrant”
- No women allowed: Summer music festivals are dudefests, again
- Vivica A. Fox tapes anti-gun PSA in front of poster for her movie
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Mariah Carey's rambling, cursing, dress-popping "Good Morning America" concert
- Fox's new reality TV show threatens regular people with unemployment
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Steamy lesbian-sex movie has Cannes abuzz
- Stop what you're doing and go watch "Borgen"
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- New York chef serves up eight-course meal around "Arrested Development" jokes
- HLN: Jodi Arias "pleading for her life" got us a ratings win!
- Michael Ian Black on Maron feud: He "considered me a poseur"
- Chekhov's story mirrors Russia's own
- Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina denied parole
- Joe Francis apologizes for calling jury "retarded"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11
Salon is proud to feature content from Imprint, the fastest-growing design community on the web. Brought to you by Print magazine, America's oldest and most trusted design voice, Imprint features some of the biggest names in the industry covering visual culture from every angle. Imprint
advances and expands the design conversation, providing fresh daily content to the community (and now to salon.com!), sparking conversation, competition, criticism, and passion among its members.