The racism and bigotry beat in business currently is an unending river of topics. Today, Target and card company American Greetings are the target, so to speak. Together, they had a Father's Day card out that showed an African American couple with the inscription, "Baby Daddy."
There have been incidents where the problem can be subtle and passed over and others where the issue is one of association that seems to prefer whites over another racial group. Companies often need the outside to note
But, in this case, there is no way that any professional marketer or product designer employed in a form of modern communications should have missed something like this. Originally pointing this out was a Facebook user by the name of Takeisha Saunders who wrote:
You CANNOT be serious Target!!!! Really!!!?!!!!? This was the only Father's Day card that featured a black couple!!!!!!
A Twitter user pointed out, as if it should have been necessary, that the term "baby daddy" is considered an insult.
Seriously @Target???? Baby Daddy is not a term of endearment. This is an insult to black fathers and a slap in the face to the African-American community as a whole. There are plenty of black men that are EXCELLENT FATHERS, not "baby daddies"!!! pic.twitter.com/Q9OWRpBl0M-- LiciaYvette (@MsLiciaYvette) June 11, 2018
Let's go with the Merriam-Webster definition for a moment:
the biological father of a woman's child; especially : one who is not married to or in a long-term, intimate relationship with the child's mother
According to USA Today, the card read on the inside: "You're a wonderful husband and father -- and I'm so grateful to have you as my partner, my friend, and my baby daddy! Happy Father's Day." An utter and total disconnect to the meaning of the front.
How can someone not realize the implications? Was it a matter of some pop culture pretender thinking it sounded cool, or a person who knew the interpretation and decided to put this together anyway?
Both companies have apologized, after a fashion. Here's what Target said to Fox News:
"We want all guests to feel welcomed and respected when they shop at Target," Joshua Thomas, a spokesperson for Target, shared in a statement to Fox News. "We were made aware of some concerns about this card last week and are working with our vendor to have it removed from Target stores.
"We appreciate the feedback and apologize. It's never our intent to offend any of our guests with the products we sell."
And the statement American Greetings sent to USA Today:
"This particular card was created for, and addressed to, a loving husband -- which the inside copy makes clear," American Greetings said in a statement. "However, we now see that the front page, taken out of context, can communicate an unintentional meaning that we are strongly against perpetuating and is not consistent with our company purpose and values. We should do better in the future, and we will. We have notified our store merchandisers to remove the card from the shelves and apologize for any offense we've caused."
Talk about a bad example of an apology. American Greetings having pointed to the interior doesn't mean that the cover was taken out of context. It says exactly what is printed on it and is a statement in itself.
That brings me back to the advice I keep on giving and apparently hardly anyone considers, along with an addition:
- Have outside panels or consultants review communications for glaring errors that you might miss, or that someone is afraid to bring up internally.
- Don't assume that you have a great understanding of popular culture or how it is perceived by different groups.
- Learn to apologize.