Posted by Abe Sauer on March 9, 2011 05:00 PM
Well, that didn't last very long. About a month after announcing a major exclusive deal with retailer Target, Lady Gaga has dissolved the partnership citing Target's corporate culture of anti-gay rights political donations.
The announcement comes after Gaga began receiving a great deal criticism from her fans for partnering with a retailer that, while supporting of gay equality on the surface, funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars over recent years to stridently anti-gay rights politicians. Unfortunately for Target, the Gaga deal collapse is a PR disaster, and the the brand would have been better off never having partnered with her at all.
"Part of my deal with Target is that they have to start affiliating themselves with LGBT charity groups and begin to reform and make amends for the mistakes they've made in the past ... our relationship is hinged upon their reform in the company to support the gay community and to redeem the mistakes they've made supporting those [antigay] groups."
That is how Lady Gaga answered Billboard's questions about her partnership with Target, a retailer that just last summer apologized for a history of campaign donations that went to stridently anti-gay rights candidiates. And after Target promised reforms, it was revealed in December that the retailer had gone ahead and continued donating to those candidates. Target has since formed a "policy committee," though many in the gay community point out that it is too little too late.
Gaga attempted to salvage her Target deal, which comprised an exclusive edition of the album Born this Way, including special studio cuts and remixes, and explain to fans that she was a force for good, and that she could refer the retailer.
Lady Gaga's gay audience is significant — not only in size, but to Gaga personally. During the battle over overturning the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy on gays in the military, Gaga was an outspoken supporter, rallying her millions of Twitter followers and fans to pressure lawmakers for gay equality. What's more, "Born this Way" is a seen as a call for gay equality. It is the first Billboard's number one song to ever use the word "transgendered."
But then yesterday it seems Gaga gave up on Target. The Advocate reported that the singer had given up on the deal. The singer's publicist also confirmed, "Lady Gaga and Target came to a mutual decision to end their overall exclusive partnership a few weeks ago."
While the damage is certainly minimal, Brand Gaga and Brand Target would have been better off never having hooked up in the first place.
It made Gaga look out of touch, with few buying her "but I did it to reform them" excuse. Worse yet for Target, Gaga's legions of "little monsters" — as she calls her fans, many of whom obsess over her every move and word — are all reminded (or introduced) to the retailer's anti-gay behavior via a slam by "Mother Monster."
Oddly, Target's Lady Gaga Facebook page remains active. Target's online page taking pre-orders for the now scuttled exclusive-to-Target album is also still live. (Note to Target: you might want to lose the Google ads on your website, particularly for celebrities you're trying to woo — see the Lupus mention above.)
Of course, one question is why Target's generally PR-savvy team didn't foresee this massive problem from the get-go? After enduring protests and boycotts last summer, and with Gaga's pubic pro-gay equality positioning, this trainwreck should have been obvious to all but the most out of touch.