Retail giant Target has faced a $9 billion blow to its market capitalization following a wave of customer criticism over controversial designs in their latest “Pride Month” collection. Some designs by a featured artist seemed to incorporate Satanic symbolism, triggering the stock slide.
Target's stock price tumbled from $160.00 to $141.00 since last week, after activist Scarlett Johnson highlighted the artist's involvement with the company in a social media thread.
This 12% decrease in a mere week saw the company's market capitalization - the total value of a publicly-traded company's outstanding shares, amounting to $9 billion in market value, the National Review reported.
Target commissioned artist Abprallen for this contentious collection. The artist's designs for Target included a mini messenger bag with “We Belong Everywhere,” a tote bag declaring “Too Queer For Here,” and a sweatshirt advocating “Cure Transphobia, Not Trans People.” However, the ire arose from designs not included in Target's collection but featured on the artist's website, such as a T-shirt stating “Satan Respects Pronouns” and a skeleton in rainbow colors announcing “Trans Witches For Abortion.”
Abprallen explained on his now-disabled website that the usage of Satan symbolizes "passion, pride, and liberty," and represents "hope, compassion, equality, and love," emphasizing that Satan respects all LGBT+ people's pronouns.
Further controversy ensued when Target offered a "tuck-friendly" swimsuit with "extra crotch coverage," catering to transgender women. Target also unveiled Pride-themed products for children, including rainbow-colored attire and books, and phrases like “Just Be You And Feel The Love” on onesies and small shirts.
As the backlash intensified, Target reportedly directed its managers and senior directors to downplay “Pride Month” displays, aiming to prevent a repeat of the “Bud Light situation.” This refers to Bud Light's sales slump following a marketing campaign with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney, which led to a sales drop of almost 24% for the week ending May 6 compared to the same week in the previous year.
Target subsequently removed Abprallen's designs in response to the backlash. The company stated, “Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work... we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”