NEWS: A Facebook user posed as a Target customer service rep and trolled critics of the chain's gender-neutral merchandise labeling policy.
Public figures and businesses can't always openly say what they'd like to say to their critics, but sometimes they can through proxies — authorized and otherwise.
A case of that played out on Target's Facebook page in mid-August 2015, when the retailer's social media site was flooded with negative comments from critics over the company's recently announced gender-neutral merchandise labeling policy. A Facebook user named Mike Melgaard came to Target's defense by creating an account named "Ask for Help," setting his avatar to be the familiar red-and-white bull's-eye used in the Target logo, and taking it upon himself to respond to customer complaints — generally in a highly sarcastic fashion.
Melgaard managed to get in several dozen posts on Target's Facebook page before his Ask for Help account was suspended:
According to AdWeek, Melgaard said he was surfing Facebook and noticed that Target was moving away from gender-based labels for some forms of merchandise and knew what kind of responses that announcement would draw:
Immediately, I knew there would be your typical outraged American spouting emotional reactions on their Facebook page. After taking a look, I was literally laughing out loud at my computer. A few more minutes in and it struck me how hilarious it would be to portray myself as a parody customer service rep. So, I did just that, and the rest was history. Honestly, it was like striking comedy gold. Every one of these people gave me the ammunition I needed for a great response.
I definitely side with Target and support their decision wholeheartedly. That being said, this was, for me, more about the laughs. I absolutely love satirical humor, and I think America could use a little more laughter.
Of course [Target] could get upset, but in this day and age I'm willing to bet their marketing team is intelligent enough to predict people like myself who come along to 'stir the pot.' I actually suspect that what I did shone an overall positive spotlight on Target.
Target seemingly expressed appreciation of Melgaard's antics by posting a photograph of two toy trolls along with the caption "Remember when Trolls were the kings of the world? Woo hoo! They're back and only at Target stores.":
For completists, here are more of Mike Melgaard's faux Target customer service rep Facebook responses: