Did you ever watch “Beavis and Butthead?” Sure, it’s completely juvenile, foul, and offensive, but when I was 13 I tuned in weekly. My dad even took me to see the movie version when it came out (it’s actually a pretty hysterical film, even old Dad agreed, he loved when Butthead tried to hit on Chelsea Clinton by bonding over orthodontia).
Regardless, there’s a recurring joke in the series and the film that whenever Beavis ingests too many sweets, he turns into a twitching, babbling, hyperactive Mr. Hyde character called “Cornholio.” Cornholio is beyond worked up and completely paranoid, demanding of anyone who crosses his path, “are you threatening me?” As the leader of the duo, idiotic Butthead is forced in these scenes to be the voice of reason, smacking Beavis down with a firm, “Settle down, Beavis.”
Believe it or not, I have a point.
Sometimes, I think the blogosphere eats too many sweet treats and starts freaking out Cornholio-style–including me. We all might just need a smack. Hey, it works on soaps, right?
Last night, while perusing blogs, I noticed a post about the recently unveiled Target ad in Times Square. The billboard features a young woman dressed for winter, seemingly performing a playful snow angel on the familiar Target bullseye logo. The problem? Her nether regions were positioned dead center in the bullseye.
Predictably, a couple feminist and family-oriented blogs got a little up in arms about it–prompting my first “settle down, blogosphere” thoughts about the issue. I respect the objectives of these blogs, and think violence against women is a serious issue, but I just can’t see that in this ad. Yes, I can see how some might read a little too much into this ad and view it as offensive to women. But I can count off at least a dozen other ways that women are debased and objectified in advertising and fashion magazines on a weekly basis that aren’t setting off a major blogstorm, so can we all just take a deep breath and focus on more important issues?
Which doesn’t include, unfortunately, Target’s idiotic response to a blogger complaint about the ad. Amy from the Shaping Youth blog called the Target PR team expressing her concerns in a message, and received the following canned (and did I mention idiotic?) reply:
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.
Good Morning Amy,
Target, really? To completely underestimate the ire of the blogosphere is a bush league move, to say nothing of the problem that “nontraditional” media has certainly become an important element in public relations. Not to mention, there are no-doubt plenty of shoppers who are the Target “core guest” and also participants in this space.
That being said…
Is this that big a deal? I turned to Twitter as soon as I read about their response, posting several angry Tweets in a row about the retailer’s stupidity, and declaring my intention for a full-fledged rant in this very space. This morning, my very wise colleague pointed out that hanging Target out to dry for one bad move was probably a bit hasty.
And he’s right. I started reconsidering my position after Jeremy Pepper’s post this morning pointing out how eager the blogosphere is to jump on every storm as gospel without hearing the issue out. To harp on this point beyond pointing out that it was a pretty silly move also seems a bit hypocritical.
Look at it this way–didn’t many of us cry foul after Chris Anderson posted the email addresses (along with an angry rant) of PR professionals who sent him press releases, pointing out that one wrong move didn’t warrant such a vitriolic response?
And didn’t Kami Huyse’s profile of former FEMA Director of External Affairs Pat Philbin reveal that there is usually a lot more to a public relations gaffe than meets the eye?
So let’s all settle down now, Beavises, and see if Target can redeem this error. I’m not saying it’s not worth mentioning, just that it might not be worth any Cornholio-style hysteria.