August 5, 2013
This evening marks the 30th anniversary of National Night Out. More than 37 million people and 16,000 communities in the U.S. will take to the streets and come together as neighbors, friends and concerned citizens.
With those sorts of participation numbers and the feel-good vibe that this event creates, it’s a natural opportunity for smart marketers to reach their target audiences.
An impressive branding effort in and of itself, the National Night Out (NNO) concept is the brainchild of the non-profit organization National Association of Town Watch. First introduced in 1984, the event was established in an effort to generate community support in anti-crime initiatives and to send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and watching out for each other.
While the event has evolved into more of a general focus on community relations and neighborhood camaraderie, the fact still remains that it’s a unique opportunity for marketers who are willing to get creative and think outside of natural media channels.
One marketer that sees the value in the popular event is Target. The retail chain is a long-term sponsor of the event, which means the company provides “volunteers and funding for the national organization and promotional activities.”
Target also sponsors celebrations in nearly every participating towns in the country, including using its own facilities to host events. It’s a tastefully executed strategy and Target is certainly doing its communities a great service, but you better believe these events do wonders for the company’s community relations efforts. And I’m sure it’s red shirts as far as the eye can see.
As a recent first-time homebuyer, I’ll definitely be taking part in my block’s little gathering, which includes a potluck, volleyball, ping pong and a guest appearance by our local fire department. While I doubt we’ll discuss anything related to protecting our neighborhood against drugs, I’m looking forward to having a meaningful discussion with those who live around me.
Bonus fun fact: NNO participation in Minneapolis outranked all other large cities last year.