The release of Target’s “Pride Month” collection took an unexpected turn when the designer behind the products, Abprallen, came under fire for incorporating controversial imagery with possible Satanic undertones. The ensuing public backlash dealt a heavy blow to the retail giant, resulting in a staggering $6 billion drop in market capitalization.
Over the span of a week, Target’s stock price plummeted by 8.5%, falling from $152.28 on May 19 to $139.39 on May 25. Simultaneously, the company’s market capitalization dipped from $70.4 billion to $64.4 billion, leaving investors and stakeholders deeply concerned.
Abprallen’s designs that sparked controversy included items like a mini messenger bag bearing the words “We Belong Everywhere,” a tote bag proclaiming “Too Queer For Here,” and a sweatshirt advocating to “Cure Transphobia, Not Trans People.” Faced with strong backlash from customers and the LGBTQ+ community, Target swiftly removed these products from their inventory. Additional contentious designs showcased on Abprallen’s website, unrelated to Target, included a T-shirt stating “Satan Respects Pronouns” and a graphic of a rainbow-clad skeleton declaring “Trans Witches for Abortion.”
The artist himself defended his work on his temporarily inaccessible website, stating that Satan served as a symbol of passion, pride, and liberty rather than a literal belief. According to Abprallen, Satan embodies optimism, compassion, equality, and love, making him an appropriate advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Pronouns are even assigned to Satan as an expression of affection.
Target faced further criticism when they introduced a women’s swimsuit marketed as “tuck-friendly” with “extra crotch coverage,” which garnered attention for accommodating transgender women. The controversy escalated as Target unveiled a line of children’s and baby goods alongside the swimsuit, featuring rainbow-themed clothing like onesie shirts with messages promoting self-expression and diversity, rainbow leggings, tutu skirts, jumpers, and a selection of inclusive children’s books.
In response to the uproar, Target reportedly contacted managers and senior directors, instructing them to tone down their “Pride Month” displays to avoid triggering a situation akin to the decline in sales experienced by Bud Light following their marketing campaign featuring transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Sales figures revealed a substantial 24% drop in Bud Light sales for the week ending May 6 compared to the same period last year, with other Anheuser-Busch brands experiencing relatively less severe declines. The company’s attempt to distance itself from Mulvaney and appease conservative consumers fell short, resulting in alienation from both ends of the political spectrum. Gay bar owners even threatened to initiate boycotts against the brand.
In light of the mounting criticism and concerns over the safety and well-being of their team members, Target made the decision to halt the sale of Abprallen’s designs. In an official statement, the company acknowledged the threats faced by their employees and expressed a willingness to revise their plans, removing content that has generated significant conflict in the current tense climate.