With one e-mail to one consumer, Target may have just stepped in a big pile of internet poo. In this day and age, it’s difficult to imagine any giant corporation who does not understand the neck-breaking speed with which our extreme connectivity allows stories to go “viral,” and spread like wildfire. Many companies even use this phenomenon in a savvy manner, to their advantage. In any case, it’s hard to imagine that they would be unaware of the danger of riling up the blogging world.
But apparently, they (or at least the poor sap who wrote the offending e-mail) are just that clueless. It all started with a poorly-thought-out billboard ad featuring a woman in a spread-eagle pose over the Target logo, with the “bullseye” squarely centered beneath her crotch. That, in itself, shows a certain level of…well, something. It’s hard to believe that someone in some marketing meeting didn’t look at that image and say, “Um, are you kidding with this?” If it’s supposed to be subtle, it missed the mark (HAR), and if it’s supposed to be overt, then it’s rather offensive. But as you’ll see, the original issue is not even the issue any more.
One blogger, Amy Jussel, wrote about the ad campaign, and her concern about the message this type of advertising, especially from a “family friendly” company like Target, conveys. The response she got was…well, you be the judge:
“Good Morning Amy,
Thank you for contacting Target; unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with non-traditional media outlets. This practice is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest.
Once again thank you for your interest, and have a nice day.”
Wow. Kinda makes you wonder who, exactly, Target thinks their “core guest” is, doesn’t it? And with a dis like that, could anyone predict any response OTHER than having this message sent all over the world a million times at the speed of light? By noon today, I had seen literally dozens of references to this story just among my own Twitter contacts. And for every “Tweet,” there was a blog post. Usually not a good one. The original message, one of concern over the billboard, has been almost completely lost amongst the greater cry of “Target hates bloggers.” Previously faithful Target customers are echoing, in droves, my Twitter-bud Julia Roy’s proclamation that “Target is dead to me.” Strong words.
What’s fascinating to me about Target’s cluelessness in this matter is how positive Target’s blogger-buzz was before this, especially among women. Hardly a day went by that someone I knew wasn’t referencing, online, a shopping spree at Target, in glowing terms. Just YESTERDAY I had a comment left on my blog recommending a product at Target in response to one of my posts.
I’m expecting some PR back-pedaling by Target ASAP, but heck, they’ve really surprised me so far. What are the odds that, a week from now, they’ll still be convinced that their “core guest” (I’m remembering that terminology the next time I invite someone over, and charging them for any amenities received in my home) is not connected to “non-traditional media?”