CommCore Blog and News

Missing the Target? When Marketing Causes a PR Headache

The following post is by Summer Intern: Samantha Blumberg,

Seems as if retailers’ marketing tactics are causing a lot of PR headaches of late.

First it was Amazon getting blowback recently over their Prime Day promotion that industry observers and customers criticized as a “crappy yard sale” in articles and on social media.

Now it’s Target’s turn, under fire from thousands of women nationwide for marketing a women’s tee-shirt with the word “Trophy” emblazoned across the chest.

Amazon chose to defend its promotion by pointing to good sales data as proof customers liked Prime Day. Meanwhile, thousands of caustic Twitter criticisms of the Amazon promotion were going viral worldwide.

Similarly, Target has defended the tee-shirt design, claiming the tee-shirt was just one of several in a pre-wedding package. At the same time, a petition asking Target to withdraw the shirt has garnered thousands of signatures. Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of critical postings. One woman questioned why the corporation was “selling shirts that describe women as obtainable objects.” Women, by the way, comprise 62% of the chain’s customers.

Though Marketing and PR are both communications functions, they often operate in different organizational silos. One has to wonder if Target’s marketers ever considered running their idea by PR to see if there might be a backlash so they could take that into consideration. At CommCore, we always advise our clients to engage a cross-functional team to consider the potential impact of any communications campaign.