Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Target, what are you thinking?

Target has long been a favorite store of mine, but recently it has dissed bloggers and created an inaccessible corporate web site, so I am unhappy to see its negative corporate behavior.

When a blogger contacted Target to complain about an ad she thought was inappropriate (it shows a woman's crotch in the middle of the Target bull's eye), she was told that Target wouldn't respond to her because it doesn't "participate with non-traditional media outlets," according to the Jan. 28 NY Times.

Doesn't Target know that what will be left when the traditional media implodes in the next few decades will be BLOGS. :-)

But it doesn't stop there. A class action lawsuit from blind and visually impaired Internet users is moving forward against Target.com, alleging that the web site is not accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Target claims that the ADA applies to actual building accessibility, not the virtual world. If the case is decided in the favor of blind and visually impaired Internet users, it could have far-reaching impact in creating a more accessible online environment. http://www.inclusiondaily.com/archives/07/10/03/100307catarget.htm

All this not-so-nice behavior by Target is ironic to me because I have done several research projects looking at advertising images of people with disabilities, and Target was a pioneer in the 1980s and early 1990s in creating quality print ads using adults and children with disabilities in its sales circulars. These ads were well done and went to 30 million households in 32 states.

Target's vice president of marketing said in Marketing News in 1992 that their use of people with disabilities in their ads was so successful that they can actually point to specific products that sold much better because they were modeled by a disabled person. In addition, another ad campaign that depicted children with disabilities lead to 1000 supportive letters and was "the single most successful consumer response we've ever gotten," a VP of marketing told The Washington Post in 1991.

Target ads included not just wheelchair users but children and teens with Down syndrome, leg braces and artificial limbs. Some Target suppliers feared the ad campaign would seem exploitative, but it had the opposite effect: "There isn't a single disabled person who will say they feel they're being exploited; they are thrilled and proud that they are being portrayed as just another member of society," the Target public relations vice president said in The Washington Post in 1991.

I know that was a long time ago now, but Target seemed to "get it" back then (when they had a VP of marketing with a child with a disability). Please Target, this "non-traditional media outlet" would like you to once again work WITH people with disabilities rather than against them.