In recent days mega-retailer Target has been under fire for selling a women’s t-shirt with the word “Trophy” emblazoned on the front.
The outcry against the shirt has been intense. A Change.org petition labeled “Stop Selling Sexist ‘Trophy’ Shirt That Demeans Women” is garnering signatures at moveon.org.
A number of women arguing against the t-shirt have been quoted in media reports, but so have a number of women voicing their support for the shirt and positing that it provides positive affirmation for women who deserve to be admired.
Despite the backlash, Target has not tried to run and hide from the controversy or orver-reacted by pulling the shirt from the racks. Instead, it has executed a PR strategy defending the shirt and seeking to debunk misinformation about it.
Part of what gave the story legs in the first place was outrage that the shirt was supposedly being marketed toward young girls by being sold in the junior’s section. Not so, says Target, in its statement on the matter:
“It is never our intention to offend anyone, and we always appreciate receiving feedback from our guests,” wrote a spokesperson. “The [‘Trophy’ shirt] is part of a collection of engagement and wedding shirts that are available in our women’s and plus size departments. The collection also included shirts that say ‘Team Bride,’ ‘Mrs.,’ and ‘Bride.’ These shirts are intended as a fun wink and we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from our guests.”
Kudos to the PR team at Target for seeking to educate the public as to what it feels are the facts related to this imbroglio.
The company’s PR representatives have also been active on social media, engaging via Twitter and the company’s Facebook page. In response to the individual Facebook posts, Target expressed appreciation to users for sharing their opinions. “Thanks for reaching out to us! It’s never our intention to offend guests with our merchandise. This has been shared with the appropriate teams,” it wrote in response to one of the photos.
Making those types of comments, especially when responding to people posting their opposition to the shirts, is a smart move by the company. Target appears to be doing its best to appear respectful and responsive, even if it disagrees with the comments and has no current intentions to take the sort of action that would placate its detractors.
Expect the issue to evaporate soon from the blogs and newspapers. In the grand scheme of crises, this one seems to be far more bark than bite.
The Target PR team deserves credit for a job well done in response to this situation. Who knows, maybe they are all sitting around at headquarters congratulating themselves and wearing trophy t-shirts…