Target Safe On Beyonce Deal, Not On LGBT Pride Events Sponsorship

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Three months ago, Target’s exclusive album deal with Lady Gaga imploded after the gay-friendly artist conceded to fan criticism of the deal.

But now, Target has signed a whole new exclusive pop star deal — with Beyonce, Gaga’s Telephone (and Video Phone) partner in crime.

So far, no complaints from fans, but Target is far from out of the woods, as its recent support on a gay marriage ban in its home state of Minnesota collided with its sponsorship of gay pride celebrations this past weekend.[more]

Target’s exclusive deal with Beyonce (the first woman to headline Britain’s Glastonbury this weekend, where she gave a “gobsmacking” performance) makes a “deluxe” version of her album available only at the retailer’s stores and website.

Twitter has been largely void of any criticism like what accompanied Lady Gaga’s announcement, which is good news for Beyonce. While Target may have looked to Gaga to burnish the G in its LGBT relations, Beyonce — who isn’t as overtly aligned with the gay community — wasn’t seen as the B in that equation.

Target, meanwhile, remains on the outs with many in the gay community.

When the Republican-controlled legislature of Target’s home state of Minnesota voted to put a California Prop 8-like initiative on the 2012 ballot that would amend the state’s constitution to ban gay marriage, Target’s official statement was that the brand would remain “neutral” on the issue. That position was thrown into stark contrast a few weeks later during Twin Cities Pride,  the annual event celebrating gay life and culture in Minnesota.

This past weekend, Minnesota’s huge Pride event took place just as New Yorkers celebrated the state’s vote to legalize gay marriage. Target’s “neutral” stance makes the retailer look more out of touch than ever.

Dot Belstler, Executive Director of Twin Cities Pride, told us that Target’s “‘neutrality stance’ is disappointing, but there is a long time between now and November of 2012.” 

Yet, Belstler was compelled to start a Facebook campaign to get feedback about the event’s continued partnership with the maligned brand. With well over 100 comments, it created a heated, but frank and intelligent, discussion about the complexities of Target’s sponsorship. (Interestingly, the St. Paul Pioneer Press article “Target says it’s neutral on gay marriage ban” has been removed.)

She added that Target had doubled its commitment to Pride this year, becoming a Gold level sponsor as well as the marquee brand supporting the “Rainbow Run.”

Meanwhile, asking to remain anonymous, a source that has met with Target executives about its support for the gay community told us that the “neutral” comment came at the worst possible time with the brand’s exposure at Pride.

The source is optimistic though, saying that Target might be more willing to come out against the ballot measure if it was able to join some corporate partners doing the same. The insider added that it’s a little unfortunate that Target is an easy target now for progressive Minnesotans’ frustrations.

Those frustrations were at play during Pride as well. As one Twitter user noted:

Others were more forgiving. As Edge NY noted,

Chris Frederick, managing director of New York City Pride, one of three pride festivals sponsored by Target Corp. this year, believes the very fact that the company is doing the sponsorship is proof of a mea culpa — an acknowledgement of past mistakes and a desire to improve. “I think that they’re making strides and they’re trying to make up for the mistakes they made,” Frederick said (adding that) Target passed on sponsorship last year.

A YouTube user (aaronjzel) uploaded a video purporting to show a Pride attendee being arrested for protesting a Target booth over the weekend. The beat goes on.

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