Target praised for using model with Down syndrome in ad

Categories: Target
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Over the holidays, Target Corp. quietly did something small that is generating big praise.

Without trying to draw attention to itself or the child, Target included a young boy with Down syndrome in one of its clothing advertisements.

It might not seem like much at first, but the intentional, untrumpeted inclusion of mentally handicapped people in ads aimed at a general audience is a rare strategy for major retailers. Target's ad says something reassuring about what "diversity" and "inclusion" mean for the company.

Here's the ad:
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Ryan, the boy on the far left, was born with Down syndrome, though without looking close you probably wouldn't notice anything special about the ad.

Target's understated approach to including a model with Down syndrome won major kudos from Rick Smith. Smith is the author of noahsdad.com, a blog chronicling he and his wife's experiences raising their one-year-old son Noah, who was also born with Down syndrome.

In a post entitled "Target Is 'Down' With Down Syndrome: 5 Things Target Said By Saying Nothing At All," Smith writes:
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Rick Smith and his son Noah
This wasn't a "Special Clothing For Special People" catalog. There wasn't a call out somewhere on the page proudly proclaiming that "Target's proud to feature a model with Down syndrome in this week's ad!" And they didn't even ask him to model a shirt with the phrase, "We Aren't All Angels" printed on the front.

In other words, they didn't make a big deal out of it. I like that.
In a response befitting the low-key nature of the advertisement, Target Corp., when contacted for comment, issued the following statement:
Target is committed to diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business, including our advertising campaigns. Target has included people with disabilities in our advertising for many years and will continue to feature people that represent the diversity of communities across the country.
John Eighmey, advertising professor at the University of Minnesota and an expert on brand communication, said Target should be "applauded" for the ad.

"Over the past twenty years or so, advertising has gradually become more inclusive," Eighmey said. "Target is showing us that when we look at advertising we should see people, not artifice."
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3 comments
CLauren
CLauren

Oh please. Way to go Target. Anything to make you appear to be a wonderful, compassionate business that cares about "diversity." Target cares about making money, lots and lots of money. This ad will make them money.

How about next you let some of the thousands of employees that you have laid off be featured in your ads - that would be nice - they probably need some extra cash to buy groceries and health care. My mother has been unemployed for over a year after working for Target Corporation for thirty years. After making a huge commitment to this company, working many extra hours, participating in volunteer commitments, and truly being a part of their "team," this is what she gets. Unemployment, uncertainty, and fear. I know that many people who worked for them are in the same boat.

Anyway - what I'm trying to say is - this company is horrible and treats its employees like they are worthless. They lay off dedicated workers, but first send them to India to train their replacements. They lay off thousands of older adults, who have made a decent living for themselves, and they replace them with 22 year-old kids with no experience who will work for lesser wages. No surprise I'm sure.

Target is just as bad as Walmart, they just have a better advertising team.

JC
JC

Great! 

Now if Target could just stop contributing money to homophobic political candidates we could believe they really have a commitment to diversity.

HurdyGurdy
HurdyGurdy

I'm more interested in them selling American-made products and stopping their use of sweatshops. Then we could believe they have a real commitment to justice.

But that would mean we'd have to pay more for our stuff, so let's not ask. Americans demand plenty of changes, but stop short when it requires them to do something themselves.

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