OWATONNA — Owatonna students and community members may recognize Anisha Zak from her job as workforce entry coordinator with the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.
In addition to helping teenagers around Steele County explore post-graduation options and find meaningful work, Zak also got to take on a temporary gig earlier this fall modeling clothes for Target’s holiday ad campaign. Just last weekend, the photo went live on the company’s website with Zak, her husband and their three kids showing off the store’s winter gear on a national stage.
Zak and her spouse, Brian, found out about the opportunity through their children, who have been working with a talent agency in Minneapolis for the last few years. The company sent out an email to parents and guardians saying Target was looking for “real” families to be part of a new campaign.
As Zak read over the list of requirements in September, she realized that her family checked off all the necessary boxes — right down to having a small, well-behaved dog.
“They wanted biracial parents; they wanted one of us to be plus-sized … and you had to have two to three kids within certain parameters,” Zak explained, of the criteria. “If you had a well-behaved dog, you could submit your dog’s picture too.”
She sent in a photo of the group, and soon enough the Zaks were on their way up to the Twin Cities for an in-person audition. Looking around, Zak said she was surprised by how many people there were in the room, all of them fitting the exact specifications Target was looking for.
Zak added that going up to the building where Target does their photo shoots was an interesting glimpse into how much the national company still does right here in its home state of Minnesota.
“I think that most of the families they have in their ads are Minnesota families,” she said. “They’re finding their talent locally.”
There were multiple roles available for the holiday campaign and after a crowded audition process, the Zaks got a call back saying they’d been selected to model the winter puffer coats.
Zak said her oldest daughter, Emery, had spent the days since the casting praying for the family to be chosen. Her wish came true and the group — including the dog, Sammie — was once again on its way to the Cities for a fitting, followed by the official photo shoot a few days later.
In addition to the main attraction puffer coats, Zak said everything the family is wearing in the photo comes from Target — down to the jewelry and even the socks, which don’t appear in the frame. She added that seamstresses were on site to custom fit everyone’s outfit to their measurements.
On the big day, the crew posed for well over 100 pictures, after getting dressed and having their hair and make-up done. Zak said they were sweating the whole time in their cold-weather layers, and added that in the ad viewers can see Sammie panting slightly in his matching winter coat.
On set, Zak said it was interesting for her to see how much work went into taking one picture. She noted that there was a person whose job it was just to keep the family smiling and laughing.
“We’re just a normal, small town family that got a lucky opportunity,” she explained, adding that it was a positive experience for her and her kids, who are now also being featured in other Target ad campaigns. Emery, Priya and Ajay will be heading back up to the metro soon to work on a project that will be released after the holidays. Meanwhile, the Zaks’ family photo went live online last weekend and will continue to be used on the site throughout the holiday season.
In addition to getting to spend time together as a family, and share a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Zak said there was one other perk to getting to model for Target. “Now, I have my Christmas card all done!” she laughed.