Monday, January 28, 2008

Target Thinks Bloggers are Irrelevant...

Bernadette of the Lady at the Bat blog sent me this, and as a part-time member of a media outlet, this made me shake my head. (Anyone find this pose suggestive?)

Well, the huge chain conglomerate, Target, has engaged in a move that I think is pretty asinine.

Here's what Berandette wrote: "Recently a blogger contacted Target to complain about their latest advertising campaign, which includes the image on the left. Her issue is that it's demeaning to women. That may, or may not be true. If Target had somehow incorporated snow into the image, their intended message about the woman making snow angels would have been clearer. What I have a problem with is how they responded to the blogger's complaint: They told her that they couldn't respond to her inquiry because "Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets."

What was the point of that? I'll tell you what the point was: to insult the blogging community. If you don't participate with nontraditional media outlets, then don't participate! There's no need to send a look-down-your-nose message saying so. Just ignore the inquiry, especially when you claim to have "limited resources" and "a small public relations team."

The New York Times picked up on the story, and you have got to read Target's response:

Target to the blogosphere: you’re irrelevant.

That was the message the cheap-chic retailer seemed to convey in an abrupt e-mail message to, a blog about the impact of marketing on children. Early this month, the blog’s founder, Amy Jussel, called Target, complaining about a new advertising campaign that depicted a woman splayed across a big target pattern — the retailer’s emblem — with the bull’s-eye at her crotch.

“Targeting crotches with a bull’s-eye is not the message we should be putting out there,” she said in an e-mail interview.

Target offered an e-mail response:

“Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets,” a public relations person wrote to ShapingYouth.

“This practice,” the public relations person added, “is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest,” as Target refers to its shoppers.

Word of the exchange quickly spread and the blogosphere did not appreciate the slight. “Target doesn’t participate in new media channels?” asked the Web site for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. Target “dismisses bloggers” commented the blog for Parents for Ethical Marketing. “Ahem! So bloggers don’t count!” Ms. Jussel chimed in on ShapingYouth.

Could Target, the ever-hip, contemporary retailer, really have such a low opinion of blogs, the ever-hip, contemporary media channel?

Yes, at least for now. “We do not work with bloggers currently,” said a company spokeswoman, Amy von Walter, who agreed to speak with this traditional media outlet.

“But we have made exceptions,” Ms. von Walter said. “And we are reviewing the policy and may adjust it.”

Target’s policy is to focus limited resources on the big media outlets, like television stations and newspapers, which reach large numbers of shoppers. With a small public relations team, she said “we want to make sure we are making an educated decision and we live up to any promises we make, in terms of service.”

Bad move Target, bad move. In a day in age where a lot of journalists are blogging on their respective organizations websites, you have got to wonder, are bloggers part of the media?

I say yes. It seems that just as many people are getting their info from blogs as the traditional newspapers. All you have to do is look at such sites as Deadspin, the Huffington Post, TMZ, Perez Hilton and countless others to see the impact they are having on the media today.

Some organizations (such as a lot political outlets, and some organizations like the Washington Nationals, a few NHL and NBA teams) seem open to bloggers; however, a lot of enterprises are not.

Folks, the game has changed, the new media is now an important component as to how news is now filtered.

Before I go, this is the kicker I got from the New York Time article:

So what about the offending ad? Ms. von Walter said the ad — part of a marketing campaign that appeared in sales circulars and a large billboard in Manhattan’s Times Square — depicts a fully-clothed woman making a snow angel. Other ads featured a man skating over the bull’s-eye, she said.

Ms. Jussel, who described herself as a faithful Target shopper, was not impressed. “Any customer deserves a response to a concern, so I found this to be a shortsighted, ill-conceived judgment call,” she said.


Ian said...

I definitely think you can construe the ad as offensive. Just look the center of the photo. Her "area" is right in the middle of the bullseye.

The Lady said...

Her area? Gee, whatever do you mean, Ian? (Hee hee!)

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