Surprise: America Has Taken a Steaming Dump On Target’s Reputation

I’m not really sure how anyone can quantitatively measure a brand’s “buzz” (Twitter mentions? Facebook likes? Drudge Report headlines?), but Brandweek BrandIndex Report by YouGov “is a weekly consumer perception report that analyzes the most talked about brands based on buzz: The scores are based on weighing positive and negative perceptions of a brand. A +100 score is positive, a -100 score is negative, and a rating of zero means that the score is neutral.” So based on that scientific model, how do you think Target is doing since it decided to spend $150,000 to help elect an anti-gay man governor of Minnesota in exchange for losing tens of millions in gay consumer dollars?

Just as you’d expected. Or at least hoped.

Target itself in political hot water in early August when it was revealed that it donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a group that supports gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who has aligned himself with radical anti-gay groups. Despite CEO Gregg Steinhafel’s Aug. 5 apology on the company’s site, Target lost one-third of its buzz score in the course of 10 days.

Although Target’s score recovered modestly from Aug. 12 through Aug. 24, it sunk again due to a rash of major newspaper op-eds, blog posts and publicity surrounding televised boycott ads from MoveOn PAC.

Of course the metric that matters most to Target isn’t buzz (although for a media chic brand like theirs, it remains a factor) — but profits, which includes the tax bill Tom Emmer will have some control over, and that’s how they’ll direct their cost-benefit analysis to see if the donation was worth it.


And Your Boycott of Target Can Remain Forever: Don’t Expect Them to Donate Any Money to Pro-LGBT Candidates

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  • Michael

    Who is Brand Index? All I can ascertain, is that this is a Wales, England based Internet marketing company with only member paid access.

  • the crustybastard

    Haven’t shopped there since. Too bad. I like their bags for cleaning out the catbox.

    Screw you, Gregg Steinhafel.

  • Fitz

    @the crustybastard: Me neither. I am eventually going to have to figure something out though.. our supply of trash bags and razor blades will eventually extinguish.

  • mm

    Im surprised how easy it’s been to not go to target. Some of the supermarkets now are quite competitive because of their proximity to target and there’s also plenty of competition in my city. Glad to hear there’s been an impact and I was part of it.

  • gbm

    There will be no real damage to Target’s bottom line due to this.Boycots never work!

  • Pickles

    Of course boycotts work, silly. You really think Coors would be spending millions every year to court the LGBT world in all these years? It doesn’t mean Coors is our friend, but they’re sure spending money on US -and less on bigots. Look, even if Target doubles their anti-gay donations, they’ll never get my $5000+ a year again. Not one cent. I shop, more-or-less for a living, so I control a sizable budget that I can or can’t direct towards any number of retailers. Target and Best Buy will not be on that list. So, MY boycott is working. They’ve got less to piss with. Eventually that bladder gets dry and they need what I’ve got..

  • James R.

    I refuse to shop at Target now. I was in a target only ONCE since this whole thing blew up, and that was because my boyfriend Dragged me there insisting he want to get the new Martha Stewart Halloween issue before anyone else. I tell ya… I screamed at him the whole entire time I was there causing a big scene.

  • Fitz

    @James R.: I can think of at least 3 good reasons why you should be boyfriend shopping. :)

  • Fitz

    @gbm: Boycotts are very powerful. A little before your time probably (though the bitch is back), but “Florida OJ” was a very effective one. Even aside from a formal “boycott”, I think people want to feel happy when they shop, not ashamed.

  • Mark

    Our huge families on both sides have stopped shopping at Target. Mr. Steinhafel thinks it’s good business to look the other way while promoting a politician who has for years discriminated against GLBT citizens with anti-gay legislation and ugly hostilities. Emmer has financially supported a group that advocates the execution of homosexuals. Fair-minded American’s have lots of choices on where to spend their money and who they support.

  • Pickles

    I just have to ask.. Queerty, why hide GBM’s innane comment that ‘boycotts don’t work’? Her/his shortsighted comment illiceted more comments than the actual article. Just sayin’… If you’re going to have comments, have them all. Makes a much more balanced discussion. Thanks.

  • Pickles

    …although, if you’d like to block (due to poor, pre-caffeine spelling) my typos, I’d be delighted!
    RE: inane, elicited and short sighted

  • Neilrr

    What a non article. Target hasn’t lost any of its market share(actually an increase,small). Your as bad as Rush Limpballs at skewing the facts there, whoever you are that you were so ashamed you forgot to put your name on the article. What BS! Target is a great store,clean,organized and you don’t see as much trailer park trash and other strange beings as you do at wallymart!
    How queer this article was!!!!

  • Tony George

    First, Target will lie about their sales since the boycott. The main thing is to continue the boycott until they get rid of the far right wing Greg Steinhafel as CEO, who is as completely far-right as Glenn Beck.

  • damon459

    As long as I have LGBT friends earning paychecks from Target I will continue to shop there. The last thing I want is to see them loose they’re jobs over this “issue”


    In my area, there’s Target, Walmart and K-Mart. Costco is around, but not conveniently located.

    Sorry, but I’m not going to stop shopping at Target. Whatever politics is happening at the corporate level has nothing to do with my local store, which I have never had any issue with.

  • Tony George

    Walmart is the old-line conservative place, while Target is the vicious Glenn Beck-Fox News, George W. Bush, Tea Party store. You can be gauranteed that your money will be spent for the far right agenda if you shop at Target.

  • Cam

    The boycott has already had an effect. Several massive mutual funds that hold Target Stock do not like it when their holdings are put in jepardy by stupidity on the corporations part. They have demanded that Target and Best Buy sign agreements that will prevent this kind of random giving in the future or they are thretening to dump their stock as well as other things that will harm the company.

  • MicMac


    Uh, Wales and England are two different places.

  • McMike

    I have to agree with some of the posters about how easy it’s been not to shop at Target. I used to love going there and just checking out the men, I mean merchandise, but Walmart is right across the street and, fortunately for me and my own taste, the “merchandise” is way more redneck and is exactly the stuff I want to cruise, I mean shop, for.

  • damon459

    I love it I got thumbs down for stating I shop at Target because I personally know LGBT people who work at the local Target is this boycott worth them losing their jobs with the economy being as bad as it is would you rather they be an unemployed “drain” on society? I know they like having a job and a paycheck and frankly I don’t remember any of you big city folks coming to MT to help prevent the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in MT so why should I rush to the aid of MN?


    Don’t feel bad, apparently my comment about refusing to not shop at Target was so offensive that it was eventually hidden because of a low rating.


  • Jason C. Riley

    My good friend is a manager at the 4th most profitable (in terms of sales) Target in the nation, and BELIEVE ME…not only is the boycott working, not only has Target sales been down, but many Target stores are actually recieving strongly worded emails and sometimes calls from LGBT who are boycotting. My friend (who is gay) says that boycotting is good so long as you make it known and make it known why it is you are boycotting and according to him…LGBT community HAS been making it well known throughout various stores in the country that they are not spending their hard earned money there. He says higher ups certainly know of the backlash and “the letter” motivated meetings in many stores between managers.

    Never udnerestimate the power of a well organized boycott. *ESPECIALLY* in this economy.

  • Miles

    @damon459: Oh yeah- that makes sense for a gay person to say. Gays didn’t drive out to Montana to support gay marriage so F-OFF gay rights? (P.S~ Self respecting gay people across the country SUPPORT gay marriage across the country in every state. They may not be able to physically make it out to every state, or have the money and funds to donate to every states gay marriage polling, but they’re on one side, and that’s the right side and that’s the side for gay marraige)..You think we’re foolish to believe you’re actually gay? How much is Target PR paying you to troll on this site? hope it’s worth selling your soul to the devil.

  • IonMusic

    It’s simple really:

    Shop at Target and you are DONATING to prevent gay rights across the country.

    Heck, why not just help fund NOM through their website and cut the middle man out?

    Don’t say you’re for equality and then literally pay people who strip you of your equal rights. That’s called a Grade A fool!

  • WalkderDC


    What a pathetic thing to say. Fine there Damon, us “Big City Folks” meaning, that I guess we don’t live in MT, will just keep doing what we’re doing and you keep on participating in your own oppression.

    Remember one thing though, we aren’t the ones who voted for the anti gay laws in MT so you may want to direct your anger at the anti gay folks in your own state….the ones you are supporting by shopping at an anti-gay business.

  • Rob

    Not gonna shop there again until there is a public apology to the gay community.

  • Rob

    @Rob: Oh wait he did apologize… not gonna shop there til there is an equal donation to a gay rights organization now… lol

  • B-RAD


  • Soupy

    We are coming to get you.

  • James R.

    @B-RAD got to fucking hell!

  • B-RAD


  • Soupy

    He must be joking. Since any “straight” person who seeks out gay blogs and their discussion forums to spew anti-gay crap is gay as Liberace. Just not very happy about it.

  • damon459

    I don’t work for Target nor have they paid me to speak on their behalf but I don’t know LGBT people who work at Target and are supporting their families by working at Target and though they understand people being upset they are worried about losing their jobs and the ability to support their family’s. This boycott if effective could cause stores to close there by forcing more of out LGBT brothers and sister to join the ranks of many receiving unemployment sure you’ve stuck it to Target but are you sticking to every other company that doesn’t support us 100% of the time? Target donated to a PAC they have also donated to a great many LBGT organizations they even apologized for it and agreed to make changes to make sure they are more sensitive to our concerned but that’s not good enough so what more can they do especially if this boycott causes them to close their doors?

  • MattF

    Damon459, People are not going to stop shopping…just not at Target. My family and I have not been to a Target in 8 weeks but am still spending money. Other businesses will need new employees to keep up with the growth in new business. Pretty much when it is all said and done, I will not ever step foot in Target again. The red bull’s eye logo is just plain creepy to us now.

  • lynn

    Hmm…I have shopped exclusively at Target since this boycott began for the simple fact is that this is still a free country and you can donate to whom you wish. What is being done seems to me is extortion pure and simple and how dare any organization use blackmail as a means to an end. Maybe we should start protesting the $$$ that the unions spend on the demoncratic or neo-con parties.

  • Tony George

    Well, I won’t shop at Target, boycott or not, until they get rid of their extreme right-wing CEO, Greg Steinhafel. I’m not gay, but I resent Target using their profits to fund their far right wing Glenn Beck agenda which includes extreme anti-gay measures. Sure a lot of the right wing blowhards have said they are going to shop at Target because they aupport Target’s far ringt-wing agenda. That doesn’t mean I’m going to ever support Target’s efforts to stink up people’s lives

  • Uncle Cedric

    Anyone who wants to target Target and make it really effective (and has the time and energy to spare) could try the following: Visit one of the boycotted stores (maybe outside your neighbourhood) at its busiest time of the week, fill up your trolley or basket with very large quantities of various small items, the more and varied the items the better, join the queue (or, in the US, “get in line”), have all the items scanned and bagged and the assistant tell you the amount, open your purse/wallet/pocket book, then look up, shocked and exclaim POLITELY something along the lines of: “Oh, my God, I’ve just realised … this is a Target store! Target is the company that supports homophobic campaigners/discriminates against gay people/etc. isn’t it? Please tell your supervisor, I couldn’t possibly shop here if this is happening!” And … calmly walk out of the store!

    We did this repeatedly in the UK with WH Smith, a newsagent chain which held a virtual monopoly on wholesale and retail sales of magazines in England and which suddenly refused to distribute and sell Gay News anymore(about 30 years ago). This tactic proved highly effective, WH Smith reneged and allowed Gay News (and other gay publications) to return to its shelves within a very short period of time.

    You are not doing anything unlawful (as far as I know), you get a tremendous rush (especially if done with fellow activists), it can be fun and … it gets the message across to the board in the most effective way possible i.e. via the exasperated managers of the stores (who have to sort out all this crap during peak hours).

    I do hope it works for you!

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