Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or away on some super-secret tropical island that has absolutely zero access to the Internet – of which, we are truly jealous) you’ve probably heard of the whole Target vs. gendered toys craziness.
On August 7 Target posted an article on their website explaining that as a brand, they are now moving away from gender-based signage. Instead of pink and blue or girls and boys in the toys and bedding areas, the big box super-store swore to keep it neutral. Based on feedback from their bizillions of shoppers, the retail giant lit up the social media sphere with their gender-freeing announcement.
Not surprisingly, Target’s Facebook page was flooded with haters who took to the Internet expressing their opinions. Target couldn’t exactly fire back. Well, they could – but, wouldn’t that just open them up to a parade of bad, bad, bad press? Not wanting to rock the public relations boat, the super-store had to sit tight and shut up.
While Target’s official Facebook page couldn’t respond to the so-called ‘trolls’ (a.k.a., people who feel the need to express their exclusively hater-like opinions online by adding comments that make the brand/blog/company want to scream), one user did. Mike Melgaard created a fake Target customer service account (complete with the red bullseye symbol) and responded in a way that the store simply could not.
Melgaard’s comments (under the alias “Ask for Help”) have since been taken down, but their memory lives on. For 16 hours Melgaard responded with superior sass and snark to Target’s customers who were irate at the store’s new direction. With responses such as, “there’s no real nice way to put this, so we Target will just say it: You’re a real dick” and, “Don’t let the door hit yah where the good Lord split yah” Melgaard’s responses to the haters quickly went viral. In an interview with AdFreak, Melgaard said that he was just “surfing” online when he saw the brewing controversy. Calling himself a “pot-stirrer,” he told AdFreak, “I definitely side with target and support their decision wholeheartedly.” He went on to add, “That being said, this was, for me, more about the laughs. I absolutely love satirical humour, and I think America could use a little more laughter.”
And, who really couldn’t use a bit more laughter? Sure, the heart of the subject is serious. No one wants to gender-type anybody (well, some people may want to – but, that’s an entirely different beast). After being blasted for what the haters consider going overboard with political correctness, the “Ask for Help” responded for Target in a way that made most of us out there giggle with glee. When Target got the comment, “Well now that Target is trying to be overly PC and basically just want gender neutral or transgenders to shop there, I will have to go out of my way to shop elsewhere.,” Melgaard replied, “Sorry for being nice and taking others into consideration. We know there’s just too much of that going around in the world these days and it surely upsets folks like you. We’ll try harder to be not as nice next time.” At least the not-so subtle sarcasm wasn’t entirely lost. The reply? “Sarcasm and content is not customer service. Screen shotted this and forwarded to Corp.” Good luck with that! By this point it’s fairly safe to assume that corporate is snickering just as much as everyone else is (of course, not publicly).
It’s no surprise that Target can’t come out and say that Melgaard’s responses weren’t just sarcastic, but they were smart, witty, totally needed and completely on-target (pun intended). Doing so would be certain to set off yet another firestorm of troll talk on social media. So, the super-store took a less in-your-face open approach. Even though the retailer didn’t publically give “Ask for Help” a thumbs up, they did make their feelings known. In a recent post, Target added a photo of two troll dolls to their Facebook page, reading, “Remember when Trolls were kings of the world? Woo Hoo! They’re back and only at Target stores.”
Well played Melgaard, and equally as well played Target!