Thursday, February 7, 2008

Target Executives and Snow Angels, Revisited

Some unusual traffic at my Target Executives and Snow Angels post reminded me that I hadn't followed up on this story.

The post, by the way, openly wondered whether various Target executives would be willing to pose as snow angels, spread legs and all.

Jodeen Kozlak is the Executive Vice President of Human Resources. Would Kozlak consent to pose as a snow angel on the front cover of Target's human resources guidelines?

Janet Schalk is another Executive Vice President, in charge of the technologies used at Target. Would Schalk consent to pose as a snow angel while working with various technology vendors?

How about all of the listed merchandising vice presidents? Perhaps Patricia Adams, Gina Sprenger, and Kathryn Tesija could pose for a group shot, all as snow angels, all centered on targets.

And the list goes on. In fact, since Target is based in Minnesota (land of the DFL, Prince, and Dylan), I don't want to be accused of being a sexist pig. Let's have Robert Ulrich spread his legs and do the snow angel also!

So, what's happened in the last few weeks?

Parents for Ethical Marketing revisited the issue on January 27 (and included graphics courtesy Shawn Zehnder Lea in the process).

Dr. Scott A. Lukas at Lake Tahoe Community College has created the Gender Ads Project. There, he describes several methods to “read” advertisements, including Katharine Frith’s Levels of Analysis (from Undressing the Ad: Reading Culture in Advertising). Frith describes three levels, or layers, in an advertisement:

"1. The Surface Meaning . . . consists of the overall impression that a reader might get from quickly studying the advertisement . . . you can describe this surface level of meaning by simply listing all the objects and people in the ad.

"2. The Advertiser’s Intended Meaning . . . is the sales message that the advertiser is trying to get across . . . the ‘preferred’ or expected meaning that a reader might get from the ad . . . the meaning that the advertiser intends for the reader to take with them.

"3. The Cultural or Ideological Meaning . . . relies on the cultural knowledge and background of the reader. We all ‘make sense’ of ads by relating them to our culture and to the shared belief systems . . . ."

I think the blogosphere’s discussions have centered around (1) and (2) but not so much (3). In our culture, women are objectified in advertisements. And targets are for shooting. Ideally, one shoots to hit the bullseye. The model’s legs are spread, her arms are outstretched, and she is on her back — she is powerless.

And she is also nonexistent - at least in Times Square.

Recently, there was one of those "hubbubs" that we are able to enjoy now that we have the internet. Apparently, there were some people who were upset, outraged and angered about a billboard in Times Square. Their odd opinion got an intenetly disproportionate amount of attention....

Well, maybe the people have spoken, or maybe it was just scheduled to come down anyway, but the billboard has come down.

Interestingly enough, the snow angel billboard came down, but the other Target billboards remained up. Not sure if they're still up, but perhaps Jodeen Kozlak - or perhaps Robert Ulrich - felt a little uncomfortable about the spread-legged look.

I guess we won't be seeing the Target executives making snow angels any time soon.

But what about the other side of the story - the one where Target, with limited resources, decided that blogs did not reach its core audience? Well, needless to say, that's still reverberating in the blogosphere.

Out and Out, February 7:

If Target wants to maintain their reputation as a contemporary and modern retailer perhaps they should engage in contemporary media usage and activities.

Ironically, they do, as the whole Target Rounders thing showed.

And, in another update, the results of Amy VonWalter's review of Target's communication policies has not been...communicated.

And Target never responded to my inquiry.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

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