Less than a week after Target CEO Brian Cornell praised the company’s “woke capitalism” efforts, the company is now quickly backtracking from “woke.”
Speaking on an episode of Fortune magazine’s “Leadership Next” podcast last week, Cornell defended companies, particularly Target, going “woke.”
“I think those are just good business decisions, and it’s the right thing for society, and it’s the great thing for our brand. … When we think about purpose at Target, it’s really about helping all the families, and that ‘all’ word is really important. Most of America shops at Target, so we want to do the right thing to support families across the country,” Cornell said.
“The things we’ve done from a DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] standpoint, it’s adding value. It’s helping us drive sales, it’s building greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, and those are just the right things for our business today,” he added.
However, it appears Target has since reversed course in the face of backlash over its LGBT-themed merchandise.
“Less than a week after the release of the podcast, Target women’s style swimsuits that advertise ‘tuck-friendly construction’ to hide male genitalia went viral, angering some customers and igniting outrage online,” according to Fox News.
“In the days since, customers have laid into the brand for its pride displays in stores across the country, particularly the display of pride-themed children’s items and baby onesies which have irked many customers,” Fox News notes.
One video recorded at a Target store and later published to social media by “Gays Against Groomers” showed everything from LGBT-themed t-shirts to LGBT-themed athletic apparel, backpacks, light bulbs, plushies, sandals, and more for sale.
This is what you will find in the kid’s section of @Target. We urge you to take your business elsewhere. They are indoctrinating and grooming them with LGBTQ ideology. It is highly inappropriate and disturbing.
We hope there are enough parents out there that understand how… pic.twitter.com/8g1UC41zAY
— Gays Against Groomers (@againstgrmrs) May 10, 2023
The items were reportedly part of Target’s “Pride” collection.
“Target’s Pride collection features designs from LGBTQ+ creators and touts the retailer’s ongoing work with the LGBTQ+ student advocacy organization GLSEN,” according to LGBTQ Nation, an LGBT-themed news site.
“Some of the children’s items from this year’s Pride collection include socks, baby onesies, and t-shirts featuring Pride flags, rainbows, or phrases like ‘I believe in you,’ ‘It takes all kinds,’ and ‘I am proud of you always,’” the site noted.
Target goes woke-and satanic https://t.co/tChoXcBhnR
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) May 24, 2023
In their tweet, “Gays Against Groomers” urged parents nationwide to reject this indoctrination and fight back as they did with Bud Light.
“We hope there are enough parents out there that understand how wrong this is and show them that this garbage will not sell. The only thing these people understand is money. Target deserves the Bud Light treatment. We will work to put the pressure on them,” they wrote.
Even more backlash emerged when sleuths discovered Target was selling so-called “tuck-friendly” clothing:
#AlexStein trolls Target @Target and tries on their tuck friendly one piece gender confused bathing suit First of all, this doesn’t even remotely seem normal because I know that any department store you cannot try on a bathing suit on or even underwear’s for that matter… pic.twitter.com/8xJAxLPcab
— Casper Anthony (@NYCASPERFLA) May 24, 2023
The backlash evidently worked, because Target started making “adjustments” to its LGBT displays — in some cases reportedly relocating the displays to the back of their stores.
That being said, in a statement to Fox News, the brand attributed the “adjustments” to threats and not to the company actually backing away from “woke.”
“For more than a decade, Target has offered an assortment of products aimed at celebrating Pride Month. Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and wellbeing while at work,” the statement reads.
“Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior. Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year,” it continues.
According to a Target insider, Targets in “many locations, mostly in rural areas of the South, have relocated Pride sections to avoid the kind of backlash Bud Light has received in recent weeks after using a transgender influencer in a promotional campaign,” as reported by Fox News.
The insider added that there were “emergency” calls on Friday and that some Target managers and district directors were ordered to tamp down their LGBT promotions within 36 hours.
“We call our customers ‘guests,’ there is outrage on their part. This year, it is just exponentially more than any other year. I think given the current situation with Bud Light, the company is terrified of a Bud Light situation,” the insider said.
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