This Target billboard, spotted by a Flickr user in Times Square, seems to have completely missed its mark with some marketing watchdogs. Amy Jussel, founder of Shaping Youth, an organization that looks into the effects of marketing and media on kids, took issue with the bullseye on the female model’s crotch. Calling it “sexualized ad slop,” she ties it to a marketing efforts aimed at young girls — from a toddler tee bearing the words “Hooter Girl in Training” to hyper-sexual clothing for teenagers (she links to The Telegraph’s article, “Girls ‘being brainwashed to be promiscuous'”).
“This sort of objectification is not only harmful to the way girls think about themselves, it encourages boys to ‘target’ girls sexually; in other words, to objectify girls rather than treat them as whole people,” said Michele St. Martin, editor of the Minnesota Women’s Press. “As the parent of two young daughters, I find it disturbing that a hometown corporation like Target seems to feel that it’s beneath them to respond to a parents’ organization’s legitimate questions.”
She’s referring to the reply Jussel got from Target HQ when she tried to speak to someone about her concerns: They wouldn’t give her the time of day. The Minneapolis-based organization Parents for Ethical Marketing posts the response:
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.
Target doesn’t consider a parent concerned about advertising’s effect on children as a “core guest”? And Target, touted as a forward-thinking revolutionizer of big-box retail, won’t engage with smaller blogs?
I’ve left a message with Target’s media relations office to see if this hometown “non-traditional media outlet” will get a reply.