Report: Donations Hurt Consumers’ Image of Target

A weekly report about consumer perception indicates that Target's brand took a major hit following a recent political donation.

Target Corporation's “buzz” plummeted last month after the retail giant donated $150,000 to MN Forward-a political organization backing Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer-according to Brandweek magazine's weekly brand index report.

The report gauges consumer perception-which it bills as the “buzz score”-based on responses from 5,000 interviewees who are asked whether they would recommend the brand to others.

According to the report, Target's buzz score dropped nearly one-third within the course of 10 days last month.

The reported change in consumer perception of Target stems from a controversial donation to MN Forward-a political organization directed by Brian McClung, former communications director and deputy chief of staff under governor Tim Pawlenty.

“Although Target's score recovered modestly from August 12 through August 24, it sunk again due to a rash of major newspaper op-eds, blog posts, and publicity surrounding televised boycott ads from MoveOn Political Action Committee (PAC),” the Brandweek report said.

MoveOn PAC created a television ad condemning Target's donation and urging viewers to boycott Target. MoveON PAC is a political organization that provides financial support to congressional candidates with moderate to progressive principles, according to the group's Web site.

After receiving significant backlash from Target employees and members of the GLBT community-largely due to Emmer's stance regarding gay rights-Target's CEO, Gregg Steinhafel, defended the company's political contribution in late July. About one week later, Steinhafel changed his tone when he sent a letter to employees apologizing for the financial gift.

Target, Richfield-based Best Buy Company, Inc., and other local corporations have given money to MN Forward. Best Buy and Target recently received some investor backlash following each company's political donation.

Minneapolis-based Target is Minnesota's second-largest public company based on its revenue, which totaled $65.4 billion in its most recently completed fiscal year.