Wow it feels like 2005 all over again, doesn't it?
It all started when Amy Jussel from ShapingYouth.org spotted the Target billboard to the right, and saw something other than a woman making a snow Angel. Amy felt that the billboard 'targetted' the wrong message for young girls, and emailed her complaint to Target. The company would later email her the following response:
“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.”
Jussel noted that in searching her blog's visitor logs, she noticed that Target had been visiting her blog and reading her posts about the company.
The New York Times also contacted Target, who replied that “We do not work with bloggers currently,” said a company spokeswoman, Amy von Walter. As the NYTimes points out, Target won't talk to bloggers, but WILL talk to a MSM source that's writing a story about how they won't talk to bloggers.
Gavin asks if this episode will become Target's version of Dell Hell. I don't think so for a couple of reasons:
1 - Dell went first, and had a first-mover DISadvantage. This is a big reason why Dell Hell erupted, because it was so completely stunning that a major company would admit that they ignore a sizable portion of their customer base.
2 - Dell Hell centered around defective products and shoddy customer service. TargetGate centers around a billboard that some people see as highly offensive to women, while some people see as a woman making snow Angels.
Also, Dell Hell was a major story created by the blogosphere that MSM finally reported on. TargetGate had gotten plenty of coverage with bloggers previously, but I've heard more about this story from bloggers in the day or so since the New York Times wrote about it, than I did in the last few weeks. In some ways, the NYTimes piece is helping to make this a story. Dell Hell didn't need any help.
But none of this excuses the fact that it is absolutely unforgivable for a major corporation, in 2008, to have a policy in place that states that it ignores bloggers. To go a step further and basically imply that bloggers don't represent Target's 'core guests', is the height of ignorance. Amy might be a blogger, but she was also a Target customer that contacted the company with a complaint. And she was all but ignored.
BTW when the NYTimes contacted Target and they claimed that they don't work with bloggers currently, the company clarified that statement by adding “But we have made exceptions. And we are reviewing the policy and may adjust it.” IOW, the company may change their policy if the story you are writing causes a big enough stink.
Target may avoid a Dell Hell-type backlash over this episode, but that might not be a good thing. Dell was able to capitalize on the blogger revolt during Dell Hell by re-examining the blogosphere, and how they should relate to bloggers. As a result, Dell is now offered as one of the finest examples of a blogging corporation.
I wonder what our opinion of Target and how the company relates to the blogosphere will be in three years?
UPDATE: Within 15 mins of posting this, and someone from Dell.com has already been here to read the entry. How long will it take someone from Target.com to make their way here?
Pic via Flickr user bennett4senate
Thanks to CK for reminding me about this story.
Tags:The Viral Garden, Marketing, Target
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