The short answer: Maybe, but only if they do something fast.
I’ve been watching the growing Boycott Target movement with a great deal of personal interest. I heard a fabulous presentation by someone from Target at PRSA a while back and have ever since been impressed by their philosophy of doing good, rather than just talking good. And, after Goodwill, it’s my favorite place to shop.
So when many of my friends sent me the Boycott Target video and asked me to “like” their Boycott Target Facebook page, I felt a true pang. Generally I’d be the first to go along with boycotting companies that do evil to society, their employees, or their communities. (I haven’t bought Exxon gasoline since the Valdez spill of 1989.) In today’s terms I’d call myself a highly engaged consumer who perceives a strong and healthy relationship with the Target brand.
But when I heard about their $150,000 donation to an arch-conservative anti-gay Republican gubernatorial candidate, all I felt was dismay. It was as if the “don’t be evil” guys were found to be doing evil all along. (Okay, well maybe I’m just naïve.) Somehow, it made it seem that all Target’s prior support of the LGBT community was nothing but window dressing. That when push comes to shove all they really care about is the bottom line.
Now I will freely admit that a big part of my dismay comes with the fear and loathing I feel towards the Supreme Court ruling that declared corporations to have the same freedom of speech rights (and ability to buy an election rights) as individuals. The ability to freely spend money to ensure that elections and the enforcement of laws goes your way is the biggest threat to democracy I can imagine. That having been said, I don’t hold it against Target for funding whom they please.
Their fault in all of this was to simply say I’m sorry, and do nothing to rectify the problem. They took no action to indicate that they were doing anything other than paying halfhearted lip service to an outraged public.
So, when the video began to circulate, and the pleas to boycott became louder, I have to admit I listened. And if I listened, there are probably a whole lot of other people who heard it as well.
If Target wants to avoid more damage—and long term reputation damage—they've got to make a serious effort, and fast. --KDP
* (Thanks for the illustration, HitDanBack.)