In a move that has left many consumers and critics shaking their heads in disbelief, a well-known retail corporation has once again found itself at the center of controversy. Less than a year after experiencing a significant drop in sales and a plummeting stock price, the company has made the decision to hire an individual known as “Gay Cruella” to spearhead their LGBTQIA+ marketing efforts.
Erik Thompson, who has adopted the moniker “Gay Cruella,” has been appointed as the “Senior LGBTQIA+ Segmentation Strategist and Pride Lead.” This decision comes on the heels of a previous campaign that drew widespread criticism and led to a conservative-led boycott, which had a noticeable impact on the company’s financial health.
BREAKING: @thenorthface has just released an ad featuring a drag queen marketed towards children.
— Gays Against Groomers (@againstgrmrs) May 24, 2023
Thompson, who has been with the company since 2014 in various roles including business analyst and buyer, took to social media to announce his new position. His post included a bold statement about wanting to “make trouble,” which has raised eyebrows given the company’s recent history of alienating a portion of its customer base.
The hire was brought to public attention by a popular social media account, which highlighted the irony of the company’s decision after their previous marketing misstep. The account pointed out that the company had faced backlash for selling products that were deemed inappropriate for children, leading to a lawsuit from shareholders.
Boycott TARGET! pic.twitter.com/nTaYsi8GdV
— Ryan Cunningham (@rycunni) November 22, 2023
In a particularly provocative online exchange, when asked if he intended to cause the company’s sales to tank, Thompson responded affirmatively, adding heart and kissing emojis to his reply. This flippant attitude towards the company’s financial wellbeing has only added fuel to the fire of public discourse.
The controversy extends beyond just social media banter. Last July, seven Republican Attorney Generals sent a letter to the company expressing concern that their Pride month displays may have violated state laws designed to protect children from sexualization and gender transition promotion.
The letter detailed the sale of LGBT-themed merchandise aimed at children, including onesies, bibs, and swimsuits with features catering to gender transitions. Additionally, the company was criticized for carrying merchandise from a brand known for designs that glorify violence and anti-Christian sentiments.
Following the viral spread of news regarding the company’s Pride campaign, the conservative boycott resulted in a 16% drop in stock prices—a clear message from a segment of consumers about their disapproval of the company’s direction.
Despite these setbacks, the company appears to be doubling down on its strategy by bringing Thompson into a prominent role. His history of provocative statements and the nature of his social media presence suggest that the company is willing to continue pushing the envelope, potentially at the expense of further alienating customers.
As the company moves forward with its new marketing strategy, it remains to be seen whether this latest decision will lead to a recovery or further decline in its fortunes. One thing is certain: the company’s approach to inclusivity and representation in its marketing campaigns will continue to be a topic of heated debate among consumers and commentators alike.