Target Takes Sites Off Bloggers , Doesn't 'Participate With Non-Traditional Media'

**Update below fold**

Target department stores apparently haven't gotten the memo that dissing the Internet and bloggers can be a dangerous game for a retailer these days. And, Target isn't just dissing blogges and "non-traditional media" they might be claiming they won't even interact with them. All this over a new advertisement that shows a woman in Winter clothing, spread-eagled atop the Target logo, the center of which appears right between the model's spread legs. Just what the "target" here is, can be a pertinent question to ask and several consumer advocates are asking just that question.

Amy Jussel of the organization Shaping Youth (shapingyouth.org), for instance, raised her concerns that this Target advert places an unwanted emphasis on a woman's genitals and points out that it is part of the overly sexualized nature of too much of our advertising industry. Jussel says, "This Target ad is senselessly subversive on so many levels," and wonders if Madison Avenue types care if "kids’ psyches are being trashed" in this country.

Jussel has also been following other ad campaigns that feature women in spread-eagled poses and pointing out the overly sexualized nature of our media.

Jussel wrote to the Target corporation about her concerns and received this curt reply:

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.

Smooth move, Target. Does Target not "get" that blogs and the Internet ARE the people that they want to reach to bring into their stores? Is Target completely unaware of the power of the Internet? Did Target not notice that Dan Rather, for instance, was laid low by the power of the Internet?

You'd think that Target would have learned their lesson when they banned the Salvation Army bell ringers from collecting donations in front of their stores last year. That Internet storm caused Target some heartburn.

Someone needs to update the Customer Relations Department at Target that the Internet is not something that you can just blow off and that the future resides on the world wide web!

So, I've got a little advice for you Target. Why don't you set your aim on the FUTURE! Stop imagining the Internet is just a few nuts that no one cares about. Your unconcern with "non-traditional media outlets" may come back to bite you.

**Update** 01/22/08

Amy Jussel sent me this to let you all know what she and her site is all about...

*"Question: Has anyone bothered to read our ENTIRE blog post besides Warner? *

The blogosphere banter is becoming misinformed minutiae, like one of those bad games of ‘telephone’ as a kid where the message keeps getting further tweaked out of context to become ‘parenting crazies over-reacting’ in a diluted dialog of one-off ad focus.

The larger issue of normalizing objectification via mass market retail and Web 2.0 being dissed is instead being skewed into a thumbs up/thumbs down UGC opinion-style vote for ‘snowangel vs. spreadeagle.’ Objectification is a worthy discussion, but NOT this one ad alone, by ANY stretch of the imagination. Fergawdsakes, stop trivializing the part that’s newsworthy!

If you’d actually READ the rest of my piece, /(toddler tees that say "Hooter Girl in Training" and "Playground Pimp" in ‘aren't we clever & amusing to use our babies as human billboards’ style)/ you’d see that I was REALLY railing about the fact that 'tarzhsay,' a purported 'family firm' drank the Koolaid and joined the ranks of all the other wink-n-nod hipster-wannabes that like to flirt on the edge of crass innuendo by normalizing’ objectification…and how the impact of that act relates to the APA research on adolescents.

As for the facts, (skewed again) I simply called to fact-check Target’s motivation & campaign context to try to be ‘fair’ and was dissed as ‘non-traditional media’ via unsigned e-mail response. Being a VERY “core” customer, I was pondering how I should best send a nastygram to corporate, with a slap on the wrist for their short-sighted stupidity, when Lisa Ray, one of our loyal readers, picked it up in Target HQ central, and was called in for a CBS interview. From there, the viral spiral began…Senseless personal attacks sans issue focus, and media-mamas fanning the flames w/their outrage.

It’s been quite an education for us both. Two outspoken moms running two diff. orgs in two diff. parts of the country suddenly media morphed into ‘one,’ referenced interchangeably, and slammed with inaccuracy and incivility. A brilliant lesson in media literacy to point out how discourse can devolve into sensationalized, superfluous slapfests when conversations get hijacked…

So, there you go. Just thought I'd pass that along.