The Daily Scoop: Target CEO opens up about threats over Pride merch

Plus: Jobless claims remain low despite high-profile layoffs; Kenyan runners face a PR crisis.

Target's CEO discusses threats over the store's Pride collection

It’s been a tough six months for Target. The criticism for the brand came first from conservatives upset over parts of the brand’s Pride collection. Then came criticism from the left after Target seemingly gave into criticism and pulled some of those items from shelves. 

Now we have a better idea of what happened in between. 

“I’ve seen natural disasters,” Target CEO Brian Cornell said. “We’ve seen the impact of Covid leading into the pandemic. Some of the violence that took place after George Floyd’s murder. But I will tell you, Becky, what I saw back in May is the first time since I’ve been in this job where I had store team members saying, ‘It’s not safe to come to work,’” he said during an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” 



Cornell said employees dealt with aggressive behavior from customers, including yelling, destruction of merchandise and even threats to light items on fire in the store. 

“We had to prioritize the safety of our teams. And I knew personally this was not gonna be well received. But we had to prioritize the safety of the team,” Cornell said. 

Why it matters 

It appears Target was put in a no-win situation.  

While the brand has long been an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, the heightened political discourse, especially as it relates to trans people, has  reached new levels. They became a flashpoint and the people most at risk were those working registers and stocking shelves. 

But Cornell’s decision will have big implications for organizations as they move into the next Pride month and their overall approach to LGBTQ+ community relations. The right will feel emboldened by their success to make further demands while the community itself feels abandoned, that they were “rainbow-washed” when it was expedient and are now being left out to dry now that expressions of allyship are receiving more backlash from the right.. 

These decisions are hard. Some are no-win. Plan now for how you’ll approach next June — including a crisis plan. 

Editor’s Top Picks 

  • Kenyan marathon runners are facing an image crisis after multiple doping scandals have tarnished what the New York Times callsthe mythical status of generations of Kenyan runners.” While there is no evidence that the Kenyan government is coordinating the doping, the revelations have harmed athletes from the country, who often use elite running to escape the deep poverty in the country. Kenya is making strides to address the problem by beefing up its anti-doping agency, but it’s sure to be a long road. 
  • Despite a number of high-profile layoffs, including Pfizer and Charles Schwab, the unemployment rate remains strong, MarketWatch reported. While new jobless numbers climbed to 217,000, the highest in seven weeks, the overall job market remains strong. However, do be on the lookout: The total number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits is at a seven-month high, which could signal larger issues.  
  • Now that Halloween is in our rearview mirror, it’s officially time to look ahead to the holiday shopping season. And don’t expect as many deals as years past have offered. While it’s still early, Axios reports that major retailers like Walmart and Target haven’t yet shown their hand with early discounts. A Walmart executive told Axios that they’re offering only two major sales this year in a bid for simplicity. Most retailers will also continue the recent trend of remaining physically closed on Thanksgiving itself — though, of course, shopping is available 365 days a year online.  

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


One Response to “The Daily Scoop: Target CEO opens up about threats over Pride merch”

    Greg Nye says:

    I understand that employee safety is the number one priority, but pulling merchandise that many people want to buy and that supports the rights of the LGBT community was not the only solution.

    Target is a major corporation and if there is violence in their store they could afford to hire armed security or off-duty officers to ARREST those people. This would sove the situation AND make a statement that we are living in a country that is increasingly unsafe for everyone.

    It’s time to stop being kowtowed by ignorant, violent people and put them where they belong – IN JAIL.

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