What Happened When One Man Posed As Target On Facebook

August 14th 2015

Laura Donovan

Earlier this week, Target made headlines after announcing that it would get rid of gender-specific signs in kids’ toy departments and other sections of its U.S. stores. The move gained traction all over the Internet, and many praised the company for fighting sexist stereotypes by not lumping certain products into a single gender. Unsurprisingly, this change received some backlash on Facebook.

That's why user Mike Melgaard posed as a customer service rep with the name "AskForHelp" alongside the Target logo as his profile picture to respond to users who criticized the change. Under the guise of Target, Melgaard mocked those who threatened to stop shopping at Target due to the removal of  gender-specific signs. His hilarious trolling lasted for more than 15 hours before Target figured out what was happening.

Melgaard went on to tell Adweek that he was proud of his work and proud of the company for defying gender stereotypes.

"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," he said.

In June, Ohio resident Abi Bechtel received ample attention online for tweeting this directly at Target:

Bechtel previously told ATTN: that seeing this sign at Target bothered her as it seemed to put girls in an "other" category.

"People are talking about the boxes we put people in, especially kids,” Bechtel told ATTN:. "There’s so much we teach kids about what to do and how to be that is based on gender." 

Though she said the message was meant to be "a one-off, eye-rolling Tweet," it received thousands of favorites and retweets, and she really believes it sparked change on Target's end.

"This was a tweet that became part of a cultural moment that got Target to rethink its marketing strategy," Bechtel said. "That’s a tangible thing in the real world."

She went on to say that she and her husband are making a conscious effort to show their three children that they don't need to adhere to societal gender stereotypes.

"So much of what we do as parents who are trying to raise kids to be feminist allies conscious of the way society talks about gender is un-teaching things they learned elsewhere," she said. "These are the conversations that happen in the car: why the kids make fun of the girl with the Star Wars book bag—why it has to be weird if a boy in your class wears pink shoe strings."

Here's what other people had to say about Target's move: