Marketing and public relations are fields that are full of surprises. Sometimes, you can anticipate which changes will rock the boat; other times, you can only attempt to react with grace and intelligence.
Target recently made a decision to replace the pink and blue signs in their toy section with more gender neutral colors. Top executives expected some backlash, but they could never have predicted the effect one overly-eager fan would have on its reputation.
Mike Melgaard was scrolling through Facebook when he saw Target’s news. Right away, he knew there would be offended Americans writing on the company’s Facebook wall so he decided to take it upon himself to do some proactive damage control. Melgaard created a fake Facebook account posing as a Target customer service rep and responded to the outraged fans.
Although his responses were entertaining to most, a few disgruntled Facebook users were certainly not amused. Some even threatened to report Melgaard to his superiors, not realizing he had none. Even so, Target felt the need to apologize to their fan base for their so-called employee’s actions. They offered this official statement:
“At Target, we are committed to providing outstanding guest service to our guests wherever we engage with them—in our stores, online, or on our social pages. Clearly this individual was not speaking on behalf of Target. Should guests ever have questions on whether a communication from Target is legitimate, we encourage them to reach out to guest relations at 1-800-440-0680.”
Later that week, however, they posted a picture to Facebook of two Troll dolls, slyly implying support of Melgaard’s antics without actually saying it.
The lesson learned: Listen to your followers and fans. Target was smart enough to recognize that although Melgaard was a little more sarcastic and offensive than any real Target employee should be, he did more good than bad. Target might have lost a few fans throughout the process, but they gained many others thanks to one rogue “employee.”