Boycotts Did Not Hurt Target's Bottom Line

But Retailer Still Seems Chastened by Outcry

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Nearly three months after funneling $150,000 to a candidate who opposes gay marriage, Target Corp. is still dealing with the backlash from liberal groups who oppose the move. But while discussing the economy and other factors attributing to a fairly good year, the company told Ad Age last week that the negative attention hasn't actually hurt the bottom line.

First, some quick background: The Minneapolis-based retail giant made the July 6 donation to a pro-business group called MN Forward that is backing GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. The contribution was allowed under the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United ruling and related regulatory decisions that allow companies to give unlimited amounts from their corporate accounts to political causes.

Target faced an outcry from groups that saw the donation as a betrayal to the company's gay-friendly reputation. But in an interview with Ad Age's Natalie Zmuda, Target Exec VP-Chief Marketing Officer Michael R. Francis said the protests and boycotts appear to have had a "negligible impact," given sales for July and August were in line with expectations. Still, the retailer is taking the situation seriously.

"We are reviewing our decision-making process for future contributions in the public policy arena, and engaging a variety of team members, leaders and our own GLBT Business Council members in that approach," Mr. Francis said. "The bottom line is we're using the benefit of time, our recent experience and team member insight to ensure our political activities fully reflect our values, interests and priorities."

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