If you haven't seen it yet, you really ought to check out Target Ain't People.Isn't that just the way media is spread these days? You get the link to the video, and you get my endorsement, all in one swift motion. Watch this video. You are my friend, and I know what you like, and you will like this. Increasingly, companies rely on viral video to promote their products. And do you blame them? If you've been paying thousands or millions of dollars for broadcast TV commercials and you happen to own a TiVo, you might start to wonder. Viral distribution is practically free and the potential reach is infinite. What's not to love?
But that low barrier to entry can also be exactly what works against you as a company. I've never seen a commercial for Target on the Web (and I'm hard pressed to remember any from broadcast TV either), but I sure will remember this Target Ain't People video sponsored by MoveOn. The video captures a musical in-store protest against Target for a campaign contribution the company made to an outspoken anti-gay gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota. Before the age of viral video, a protest like this one could have been pretty easily contained. It might have made the St. Paul papers, or maybe even the local news -- and that would probably be the full extent of the reach. But as I write this, the YouTube video has close to a million views, and it's only been kicking around about a week.
Target issued its response through traditional channels, traditional media. If I didn't tell you that, would you know it?
Critiquing the video for a moment -- the video I love. It's wholesome, it's compelling, I'm a Depeche Mode fan from back in the day -- but if I were producing that video I wouldn't muck up the anti-Target message with the stuff about the Supreme Court. It just confuses the cause. Again, I'm not saying they don't have a good point -- but I'd save it for a different video.
Before I go boycotting Target myself -- and let's face it: That would hurt me so much more than it would hurt Target -- I'd like to know more about the company's stance on LGBT issues. Time will tell -- and Target's actions will tell -- whether that campaign contribution was an isolated incident or evidence of the company's general stance. And the best that Target -- that any company -- can do to defend its itself against this or future attacks is to take away the for the attack by doing the right thing.