Another TV commercial is the subject of unintended controversy, but this one has nothing do with exercise bikes. Instead, the Target commercial features the African-American owner of the Honey Pot, which sells feminine hygiene products, as she talks about her business and its potential to inspire. Coverage:
- The ad: Watch it here. In it, CEO Beatrice Dixon says this: "The reason why it's so important for The Honey Pot to do well is so the next black girl that comes up with a great idea—she can have a better opportunity," per USA Today.
- The backlash: The ad, up since early February (Black History Month), suddenly went viral on social media last weekend, reports CNN. Critics deluged rating sites with poor reviews and accused Dixon of being racist. "Black girls are empowered using this product... I guess whites girls aren’t. I’ll be letting Target know about this racist company," went one typical review, per BuzzFeed.
- Page down: The review site Trustpilot got so many slams it now has a note saying the Honey Pot page is temporarily suspended. Because so many flooded in (including with racial slurs), "we cannot guarantee that reviews provide a genuine representation of the company."
- Backlash to the backlash: Dixon tells BuzzFeed that sales have jumped significantly (they were up as much as 50% Monday) amid the controversy, apparently the result of supporters rushing to help. "It was really beautiful to see so many people supporting us, you know, and lifting us up and speaking words of encouragement," she tells CNN. Her product is for all women, she points out.
- Bigger point: Dixon hopes the issue highlights the fact that black female entrepreneurs face huge challenges, such as receiving only a small fraction of venture capital funding. "It wasn't me being racist," she says of the ad. "It was me understanding the responsibility that we have to take as a black-owned business in America in 2020."
- In defense: In Essence, Tonya A. Christian applauds the ad, and she says anyone who talks in favor of "equity and equal representation" should do the same. She agrees that black female entrepreneurs "face overwhelming challenges," with clear evidence that it's tougher for them to get loans. "The fact that Dixon was able to take a dream, literally, and turn that into a company that has products gracing the shelves of Target, Walmart, Walgreens, you name it, makes her a shining example of what little Black girls can one day be."
- A 'paradox': Hood Feminism author Mikki Kendall sees a "colorblind paradox" at play in the Chicago Tribune. "I can’t tell you how many feminine hygiene product commercials exist that never show a single face that’s darker than a paper bag,” Kendall tells columnist Heidi Stevens. White women are the default in advertising, "to such a degree that a black business owner wanting to serve as a role model and a success story for black girls feels, to some, like an affront, like something’s being taken from them." It's not. It's "simply being offered to even more people ... in addition to them."
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