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 ShapingYouth.org, 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.”