Target: Vagina!

If you live in the United States, you're probably familiar with Target, the discount big box retailer that bills itself as something of the anti-Wal-Mart.

Target has had a reasonably good reputation for charity and treating their employees well (they're non-union, but they don't seem to take the same glee at screwing employees over that Wal-Mart does), and as a Minnesotan I'm required by law to love them, as they are headquartered in Minneapolis. And generally, I do, at least since they stopped denying women contraception.

But this ad, located in New York City's Times Square, is a reminder that Target dithered a long time before making the right decision on contraception, and a reminder that Target doesn't exactly view women as full equals. And Target's reaction, when called on it, is simply laughable.

I mean, it's not exactly subtle, is it? Yes, yes, I know I'm overly sensitive and such, but the model's crotch is centered on the bulls-eye. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize that this message is not so much subliminal.

Steve Hall at AdRants says: "Would it have been that hard to place the image of the woman so her upper body was in the middle of the target rather than Seriously. Perhaps the initial concept had her playfully face down in a pile of snow emblazoned with her ass in the middle of the Target logo but someone at Target said, 'We don't do doggy style at our organization. Flip her over please.'" And that seems about right.

Amy Jussel at Shaping Youth actually called Target to find out if they would comment on the ad. Parents for Ethical Marketing notes what happened next:
After seeing a photo of the Times Square Billboard, Amy wrote about it on her blog. She also called the media people at Target Corporation, left her concern, her contact information, and a request for a call back. This is what she got:

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.

P.E.M. asked if Target would turn down a request for information from "non-traditional media outlets" located in Minneapolis, and my friend and colleague Paul Schmelzer is trying to find out. Certainly, I'll let you know what he discovers, but in the mean time, if you, like me, are one of Target's "core guests" and a consumer of non-traditional media (and, obviously, you're at least one of them) then you might want to let Target know that these publications happened to reach their core guests -- and that we're not particularly happy. You can fill out a form online to express your displeasure, or you can call them at 1-800-440-0680.

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