Say It With Me: “Bloggers Are People”

The New York Times, what one might call a “traditional media outlet,” has decided to pick up a story that’s been circulating on many prominent marketing blogs over the course of the last ten or so days.

The story in question involves Target’s new ads, and a complaint by blogger Amy Jussel of ShapingYouth. Amy was offended by the campaign, which, as the New York Times states, “depict(s) a woman splayed across a big target pattern — the retailer’s emblem — with the bull’s-eye at her crotch.”


So when Amy inquired, she got this response from Target:

“Thank you for contacting Target; unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with non-traditional media outlets. This practice is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest.

Once again thank you for your interest, and have a nice day.”

Of course, when The New York Times called, Target bothered to actually give an answer. The New York Times, as you might know, is kind of a big deal. Says The Times:

“Target’s policy is to focus limited resources on the big media outlets, like television stations and newspapers, which reach large numbers of shoppers. With a small public relations team, (company spokeswoman, Amy von Walter) said ‘we want to make sure we are making an educated decision and we live up to any promises we make, in terms of service.'”

Putting the entire argument of the campaign itself aside (my guess is that the placement is for the purpose of design and image justification, but I don’t have a vagina and so I’m staying out of this one), so I want to focus on how Target handled this situation. To me, the big mistake that Target made was that they viewed this blogger as a…dun dun dun…media outlet. They’d be, I’d say, 25% correct in this. Yes, blogs are where people go to get information. But is Amy of ShapingYouth a media outlet? No, she’s a person who cares about specific issues that relate to her. So, she advocates on her blog. But mainly, she’s a person…

…Which means the inquiry should have promptly been sent to customer service. Why? Because she’s a concerned customer, and she wants service. She just happens to be a blogger with a large audience, and doubles as an opinion leader.

If she submitted her request to customer service originally, would customer service have said, “oh, well, since you haven’t confirmed that you spend over (x-amount) a year at Target, we’re not going to dignify you with a response”? I would hope not. This is the same case — Target is arguing that since she’s not a big enough “media outlet,” she shouldn’t be given a response.

Say it with me: Most bloggers are people. They are people who care about issues and discuss these issues in non-traditional, “word of mouth” ways. They are not media outlets.

Repeat it over and over: “Bloggers are people. Bloggers are people. Bloggers are people.”

Okay, I’m done for now.

And if Target doesn’t understand this concept, they now understand another concept: they screwed up, and now they’re in the New York Times.

So, perhaps the mantra should be “bloggers are really loud people”?

~ by Brad Levinson on January 28, 2008.

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