Target CEO Scoffs Uproar, Says Trans Merch Is ‘Great for Our Brand’
Robert Lachky was at the top of the corporate heap at Anheuser-Busch for 20 years. Like most people, he can’t believe that the brand he helped bring into the modern era would commit financial suicide over a trans fad with zero American appeal. “That’s insanity,” he said of the Bud Light-Dylan Mulvaney partnership. “That’s marketing incompetence.” Well, if Target’s latest decisions are any indication, the incompetence is contagious. And, as investors are finding out, so is the fallout.
At the helm since 2014, Target CEO Brian Cornell has presided over some of the most extreme LGBT policies in the store’s retail history. One of the first chains to throw open their bathroom and fitting room doors to both genders, Cornell’s big encore came last year when he launched a line of packing underwear and chest binders. Now, the boss seems determined to send shoppers running for the exits for good with a Pride line that, among other things, helps boys hide their parts with “tuck-friendly” swimwear that boasts “extra crotch coverage.”
The move sent already angry conservatives into the stratosphere. Calls rang out to give Target the “Bud Light treatment!” with personalities like Matt Walsh declaring the move even worse than Anheuser-Busch’s, because they’re directly pursuing kids. “Relatable” host Allie Stuckey, who made a huge splash in 2022 by announcing her personal boycott of Target, pointed out that the new merchandise is designed by a company with Satanist ties. “Satan respects pronouns,” Abprellan boasts on some products.
That’s true, Stuckey insisted. “Satan would definitely call a man ‘she,’ because Satan is the author of confusion and hates the human body and soul.” Christians who are tempted to embrace this dangerous war on language and gender in the name of compassion “should wake up to the fact that they’re dancing with the devil,” she warned.
Like a lot of moms, Stuckey loved Target — but she wasn’t aware of what they stood for until recently. “I think I just didn’t realize exactly what Target supported,” Stuckey admitted. “But last year, they went a step too far for me — encouraging young girls [to believe] that yes, your body is bad. Yes, your breasts are disgusting. This part of you is something to be embarrassed about. And if you’re confused about this, we’re here to help. We’re just going to hide this part of your body for you. We’re going to make it really easy. You can purchase this without your parents knowledge. We’ll put it in all these fun rainbow colors, and you can pretend to be something that you’re not.”
“There’s just nothing more wicked,” Stuckey insisted. And it isn’t just social conservatives who think so. Megyn Kelly has been on the warpath against this agenda, fuming at Target, “No woman needs to tuck anything. We have vaginas and we are the only one who do. Oh,” she added, “and we don’t need our kids seeing this s--- when we walk down the aisle.”
Others can’t believe the tone-deafness. The latest numbers for Bud Light are abysmal — cataclysmic, in fact. Despite the millions Anheuser-Busch is dumping into damage control, the six-week slide shows no signs of slowing.
According to the latest industry data, “In the week starting on May 8, U.S. retail sales decreased by 28 percent compared with the same period a year ago, according to an analysis of Nielsen data by consulting company Bump Williams. That’s an even bigger slide than the 23.6 percent plunge in sales for the week ending May 6, compared with the same week a year ago.”
As the beer company weighs “mass layoffs” to cope, the warning signs should weigh heavily on Target. But amazingly, Cornell is undeterred. “What’s your take on some of the pushback now on so-called ‘woke’ capitalism?” Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram asked him on the “Leadership Next” podcast released last week. “We’re seeing a lot of backlash, not just on the social justice side,” Lev-Ram pointed out, “but ‘woke’ capitalism in general. What is your take on it?”
The CEO scoffed concerns. “I think those are just good business decisions,” he insisted of the company’s controversial trans-alignment. And more than that, Cornell argued, “it’s the right thing for society, and it’s a great thing for our brand.” From a “diversity” standpoint, he said, “it’s adding value. It’s helping us drive sales, it’s building greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, and those are just the right things for our business today.”
But what’s “right” to Cornell isn’t necessarily what’s profitable. Ask Bud Light. “The minute you step into the political or religious spectrum,” Lachky warned, “when you know your target audience is going to have a real issue with this, you know you’ve alienated at least half of your target audience,” he said. “In the end, people don’t like getting preached to…”
Not every company will feel the hurt like Anheuser-Busch. Boycotts can be hit or miss for so many reasons, but frankly, choosing not to shop at stores that fund the war on our children is as much about us as it is them. “I’m not saying that, oh, now … I’ve just crashed all [of Target’s] sales, and now they’re going to change their mind,” Allie said. “… For me, it’s just an individual choice that I made. And I’m very glad that I did. And I’ll encourage you to as well.”
“I cannot state enough how important is for people to choose not to shop at Target,” Candace Owens urged on Twitter. “There has never been a company that has been more pro-transgenderism than Target. Shop anywhere else.”
Actually, there are a number of CEOs actively hunting our children, and it should be a no-brainer to walk away from all of them:
- Adidas: The athletic brand caused an uproar on Twitter with its “Let Love Be Your Legacy” line, which features a hairy man in a woman’s swimming suit. The goal, collaborator Athlete Ally explained, is “to drive inclusivity in sport” — and erase girls in the process. “To even remotely put this out there is belittling,” former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines argued. “It’s offensive, it’s demeaning to what it is to be a woman, because I promise you, if you have XX chromosomes, you do not look like that in a swimsuit.”
- Anthropologie: The trendy women’s company lit up social media when it posted a reel of a biological man modeling their new skirts and twirling until viewers could see his underwear. “Never anthro-poligize for being fabulous!” the caption read. The post was so inundated with angry responses that the brand had to turn off its comments. Moms and young women echoed this user, who said, “I have loved your store for as long as I can remember, and I’ve now unfollowed you and will spend my money elsewhere. Just sad, for women everywhere!”
- Calvin Klein: In a stunning slap in the face to women, the clothing company decided to feature a pregnant, trans-identifying man for last year’s Mother’s Day campaign. Roberto Bete, a reality TV star from South America, is pictured lying on a bed in men’s underwear with her large belly and top-surgery scars exposed. “We can reproduce biologically or from the heart. … Our place is to love and be loved,” the company insists.
- Hershey: Before Bud Light stepped in it, America’s chocolate company was public enemy number one for putting a trans-identifying woman on its candy wrappers with four other legitimate females for International Women’s Day in March. “Her for She” was a huge flop, costing the company several loyal customers. Still, the brand stood by its extremism, saying they “value togetherness and recognize strength created by diversity.” In a matter of days, a brand new conservative alternative, Jeremy’s Chocolate (the non-woke brainchild of a Daily Wire co-founder), sold a half-million bars. (Ditch Mars and Nestlé while you're at it. Back in 2021, the two brands urged CEOs to fight any legislation that protects children from trans indoctrination.)
- Jack Daniels: Two years ago, no one paid much attention to the whiskey company’s Ru Paul collaboration. That changed after Bud Light’s collapse, and the ads with three drag queens resurfaced. Suddenly, the company was on the defensive — but showed no signs of backing down. In April, a spokesman insisted, quite unapologetically, that Jack Daniels is “a longtime champion of the LGBTQ+ community.”
- Maybelline: Also bitten by an older ad, the make-up line was scorched for asking Dylan Mulvaney, a biological man, to glam up with their products in March. American women were furious, deriding the brand’s longtime slogan: “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” In this case, consumers pointed out, “He definitely wasn’t born with it.”
- Nike: Like Bud Light, the swoosh chased a partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, who danced around his backyard in a women’s sports bra he didn’t need until #NikeHatesWomen started trending. The video hit just days after Anheuser-Busch, landing Nike in the same hot water as the beer brand. “Another day, another company slapping all women in the face by mocking them and paying a man to take their place,” detransitioner Oli London fumed.
- Smirnoff: The Illinois-based British vodka company made headlines earlier this year when a drag queen they worked with in 2022, Maxine St. James LaQueene, flashed people at the Texas capitol during a transgender debate. Although the partnership didn’t make headlines until recently, Smirnoff raced to distance the brand from LaQueene after the incident, emphasizing that he “is not currently a Smirnoff partner, and does not currently have any contract with Smirnoff.”
(More on Levi Strauss, Starbucks, and Sports Illustrated here.)
“Off the Bench” Podcast host Heidi St. John told “Washington Watch” host and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins that she hasn’t been to Target since 2016, when they opened their women’s bathrooms to men — “willfully putting [children’s safety] at risk.” This movement of evil, this “demonic influence,” she insisted, “happened on the watch of God’s people.” And as believers, “as men and women who want to follow Jesus, we have a responsibility at this point to say, ‘No, you will not get my money — not for an apple, not for a gallon of milk, not for the socks that my kid just lost in the dryer, or whatever it is. We need to stop supporting these institutions, because what we’re really doing is supporting the agenda of the adversary of our soul.”
Perkins agreed, pointing viewers back to the Apostle Paul’s words in I Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” “So how you shop, where you spend your money,” he said, “everything we have as followers of Christ, we have to recognize … is given to us by God. We’re stewards of what we’ve been entrusted with. And you have to ask the question: Would God be pleased with you giving your money to an organization that is promoting the transgenderism of our children and is fostering this spirit of lawlessness?”
“If the church can’t be at the front of this conversation,” St. John warned, “I don’t know who should be. This is the responsibility of God’s people.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.