OGDEN — This year’s comical, annoying-on-purpose Target Christmas commercials feature a face familiar to Utah audiences.
Kirby Heyborne, the blond, guitar-strumming actor-singer for Target, also starred in “The Singles Ward,” “The R.M.,” “Saints and Soldiers” and “The Best Two Years.” He also played Teddy in “The Three Stooges.”
“There are seven Target spots, with radio stuff and Internet,” said Heyborne, 35, an Alta High School and University of Utah graduate who now lives in Los Angeles. “Some air between now and Black Friday, and there are spots for different sales happening through December.”
The first commercials debuted last Wednesday. In one, two young women are texting about meeting at Target for post-Thanksgiving sales. Each pajama-clad texter has a seemingly unseen person behind her, singing the texts in a “Valley girl” accent, to the tune of the carol “Do You Hear What I Hear.”
Other commercials in rotation feature Heyborne and Los Angeles-based actress Katy Chase singing the over-the-top praises for stacks of sweaters and the fantasy of shopping forever.
“People are loving them,” Heyborne said of the Target commercials. “They’re funny and almost slightly manic. They’re directed by Jorma Taccone, who directed a lot of the ‘Saturday Night Live’ digital shorts. They’re very tongue in cheek.”
Heyborne said he gets recognized on the street, and this week was praised by tellers at the bank branch he walked into.
“We spent about the last three months on them, which is like a film,” Heyborne said. “Most commercials these days are a fitting and a one-day shoot, then you forget about it. Over the past three months, Katy, Jorma and I, along with the people from Target, have become like a family.”
Heyborne, his wife and his three children have spent the past decade in Southern California, for his work. Besides acting, singing and playing guitar, he also records audio books and does voice overs. He was cast in a short-lived Fox sitcom, “Free Ride.” He’s in an improv troupe called The Society, and has a Christmas album called “Merry White Tree in the Night.”
Heyborne said he has fond memories of LDS-themed films shot in Utah.
“I was really fortunate to do the Mormon films,” said Heyborne, who served his own mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Dominican Republic. “They were a part of building my career. You learn from every project. They were important projects to me. When you have something that can show people you do a decent job that helps a lot.”
Heyborne, a Wyoming native, also has fond memories of growing up in Utah. He studied economics at the U, and he worked as an assistant manager at Zions Bank. But in the end, the lure of performing was too strong.
“I still use economics,” he joked. “It helped me to understand that in order to survive, I need to make money.”
He has no career regrets.
“We did four 16- to 18-hour days to shoot these Target commercials,” Heyborne said. “The thing is, I would much rather spend 18 hours a day on set than in a cubicle. The work’s always a lot of fun. There’s nothing better.”
See video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=f66exGdj4bs&feature=related