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Jane Villanueva, the titular character played by Gina Rodriguez in Jane The Virgin, is a simple girl. Jane's mother Xiomara sums up her daughter in the first season's fifth episode, saying, "Jane's not impressed with money or power. She likes going to the movies or shopping at Target. That kind of thing. Low-key stuff."
For a CW sitcom based on a Venezuelan telenovela about a devout Catholic Virgin who was accidentally artificially inseminated with a cancer-surviving trust fund lothario's sperm (plus a murder or two, for good measure), its main character really is low-key. And she really, really, really likes shopping at Target. In the world of Jane The Virgin, Target doesn't just exist through surreptitious product placement (though Target's signature bullseye insignia totes are ubiquitous: on public transportation, in Jane's kitchen on a sexy taco night). The store, instead, is a part of her personal brand.
Speaking to how the store became embedded in Jane's character, Jessica Carlson, a Target spokesperson said, "The writing comes first. And then products/integration ideas are woven into the content/scene. This is definitely an editorial process to ensure the integration is as organic as possible." It's meant to be organic, but — to borrow a telenovela phrase — ¡dios mio!, it can feel distracting. Sweet, moral Jane doesn't just wear Target dresses or engage in light banter with her accidental sperm donor in the cookie aisle. She reps the lifestyle.
We see brands consume characters' passions in plenty of comedies as well-received as the beloved first season of Jane the Virgin. On Arrested Development, Tobias Funke and Carl Weathers take a business meeting in a Burger King, which Tobias asserts is a "wonderful restaurant." On 30 Rock, Liz Lemon finds herself obsessed with Outback Steakhouse's Bloomin' Onion, reportedly fueled by a sponsorship. An entire episode of Broad City was dedicated to Abbi's obsession with Bed Bath & Beyond. But on Jane the Virgin, the Target placement is part of a long game for the brand, not a quick money grab by the network. It feels a lot more pointed. Target isn't a character quirk like Liz Lemon's obsession with junk food. It's a corporation's attempt for Jane to represent a huge chunk of American women.
The integration of the Target brand and Jane the Virgin is the keystone of an ad package that launched earlier this year called "#SinTraduccion," or "Without Translation." According to Carlson, "[#SinTraduccion] launched in March as a year-long campaign that celebrates the untranslatable moments in our Hispanic guests' lives." #SinTraduccion is part of a larger push on behalf of Target to court more Spanish-speaking customers, the living, breathing counterparts of Jane, the fictional pregnant virgin Latina from Miami.
According to the Ad Age Data Center, Target's is broadening its idea of a "core shopper" from a busy, family-oriented (and white, though this is unspoken) mom to include the millennial, Hispanic woman. In 2013, Target spent $51 million on Hispanic media in the US, the 28th largest spender in Hispanic media for that year. Obviously, Target isn't courting the platonic ideal of "Jane" out of a social concern for representation in media. Target is looking to make money off of her. The spending power of Latinos is expected to grow to 1.4 trillion dollars this year.
#SinTraduccion and Target's involvement in Jane the Virgin were conceived separately, but the brand aligned the timing of the campaign launch to coincide with the show. A commercial focusing on the untranslatable word "arullo," a time when a mother creates a cozy, comfortable environment for her baby, first popped up during an episode of Jane the Virgin. It's a sweet, tightly orchestrated serendipity for a show about motherhood —between Jane and her mother, and now between Jane and the baby boy Mateo she delivered in the final episode of season. Jane's affection for Target will likely swell as Mateo grows.
Now that Jane's had her baby, she's going to need a lot more stuff. In addition to the flirty sundresses and snacks purchased in her pre-child days, she's going to need diapers and baby shampoo and BPA-free bottles and cotton onesies. And since Jane is about to be a grad student and a mother at the same time, convenience and affordability are necessities when shopping. Lucky for Jane, and for all the Latina women for whom she is shorthand, that Target exists, right?
The second season of Jane the Virgin premieres on The CW on October 12. "You may just see Target pop up again!" said Carlson. Sounds about as likely as a pregnant virgin, so in this show's world, almost a guarantee.