brands under fire

Target Apologizes for Emmer Contribution (Updated)

Posted by Shirley Brady on August 5, 2010 03:00 PM

Target this afternoon apologized for the company's $150,000 donation to an anti-gay group backing aspiring Minnesota governor Tom Emmer.

According to AP, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel wrote in a memo to employees that he was "genuinely sorry" for the incident.

''While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry,'' Steinhafel wrote.

'The diversity of our team is an important aspect of our unique culture and our success as a company, and we did not mean to disappoint you, our team or our valued guests.''

Target's corporate donation was made to Minnesota Forward, a right-wing political action committee aligned with Emmer, who is running for state governor and (like the conservative PAC backing him) vehemently opposed to same-sex unions and equal rights for gay couples.

In a week where a U.S. federal judge overturned California's gay marriage ban (just appealed), Brandchannel's Abe Sauer has been following the Target fracas on The Awl, where he is also a contributor.

Earlier this week, Sauer asked Target P.R. if there has been any fallout from affiliated brands such as Ben & Jerry's or Justin Timberlake.

Target's corporate communications responded that its "partners understand Target’s commitment to inclusion and diversity has not waivered and remains a core value of the company. Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth."

Although Minnesota-headquartered Best Buy also donated to MN Forward, it was the mega-retailer which found itself in the hot-seat. As for Target, now that it has apologized to its employees, we'll be interested to see if it will try to win back the gay community, or simply hope the internal apology will have a halo effect with customers and this all blows over.


M. Scott United States says:

A day late and a dollar short, I'm afraid. Also, why just internal?

August 5, 2010 07:45 PM #

Deborah Budd United States says:

It is always dangerous for retail corporations, perhaps more than other kinds of businesses, to align their brands with political causes, parties or candidates.  The very nature of their businesses dictates that their customer base is going to include large numbers of people who completely disagree with the cause, party or candidate supported by the retailer.  Backlash is inevitable.  I don't shop at Target because I support their political views, and I don't expect the company to take the dollars I spend and blatantly use them for causes I disagree with.  Hope they learn from the experience.  If a C-suite individual had made a personal donation, that would be different. People are entitled to their own political beliefs.  But associating the brand with a potentially divisive political organization was just asking for trouble.

August 6, 2010 03:22 PM #

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