How to target your competitors ugly press.
The Minneapolis-based retailer Target took a hard look at its solicitation policy, and made a harder decision to enforce it against Salvation Army bell-ringers.
As you might expect, there has been a media and consumer backlash. The Salvation Army announced that the ban outside of Target stores would cost the non-profit in excess of $9,000,000 for this season's kettle campaign. And to make matters worse, some of the boycotters are adding their own agenda to the fire, claiming the bell-ringer ban is really an attack on Christians fueled by gay rights organizations.
Not content to sit on the sidelines, Wal-Mart is one of a number of competitors that has embraced the bell-ringing volunteers -- and has even announced it will match those gifts dollar for dollar (up to $1,000,000) through Christmas.
The press attention has been extremely one-sided. Outside of the initial reports, there has been no mention of the fact that many shoppers might prefer not having to make a token donation each time they walk by. Recent stories have failed to take this into account. Also -- not only will the Salvation Army more than make up that deficit because of the backlash, it doesn't rely on the kettle drive for everything. By far, the biggest source of revenue for the Salvation Army is planned giving and bequests. The organization is in better financial shape than just about any non-profit in history. It will be interesting to see how the Salvation Army really fares at the end of the Kettle Drive, and even more interesting to see how Target's holiday sales end up. It's not out of the question that both will end up better for the deal -- and Wal-Mart could sneak in and get a piece of that too.