Target is the subject of criticism over an ad campaign promoting their new clothing line which coincides with the recently released remake of “Annie.”
The clothing line, developed by designer Renée Ehlrich Kalfus to mirror the film’s main character, is being promoted with Internet and billboard ads that show predominately white models, despite the fact that the movie’s star, Quvenzhané Wallis, is African American. The campaign sparked outrage among some consumers, who took to Change.org to demand that the ads be pulled.
“In the current stench of racism and division amongst Americans, why would Target singlehandedly disrespect Quvenzhané Wallis and add more pain to injury as it relates to race relations?” the online petition read.
“Your recent Annie ads and in-store displays depict a misleading depiction of the movie as it shows a Caucasian young lady opposed to the star of the film--Quvenzhané Wallis. Though the model is quite professional, she does not speak to the relevance of the movie or main character.”
Started by L’Sean Rinique Shelton, the petition also called on the store to apologize to Wallis. “Being African American is not ugly, it is not bad and we are sellable!” Shelton said. “These grossly misleading ads are adding to the divide and does [sic] not give young African American girls aspiring to become actors anything to be optimistic about.”
Target spokesperson Joshua Thomas responded to the controversy, clarifying that the campaign featured white and black models in an effort to show that “anyone can embody the spirit and character of Annie.” Another Target representative, Jessica Carlson, told the Daily Mail that the store tried to get Wallis to be in the ad campaign, but those efforts “did not come to fruition.”
“Fortunately, we had the pleasure of working with Ms. Wallis a number of times, including at a launch event in New York City in November. We had a great experience working with Ms. Wallis and appreciate her efforts in promoting this collection,” Carlson said.