FIRST ON FOX: GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy torched Target’s CEO over his praise of woke capitalism, quipping that doing so “put a target” on the retailer’s back.
Ramaswamy, one of several Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for the White House in 2024, told Fox News Digital on Wednesday that consumers’ response to Target’s alienation of a large swath of its customer base is “totally fair game.”
“If a company makes a conscious business decision to alienate a significant portion of its customer base, then it’s totally fair game for its customers to respond accordingly,” Ramaswamy said.
TARGET CEO SAYS WOKE CAPITALISM ‘GREAT’ FOR THEIR BRAND, ‘THE RIGHT THING FOR SOCIETY’
“That’s not a boycott, that’s just a response to a company that chooses to spit in their face,” he continued. “I have no doubt that many companies do find wokeness to be a good short-term trick.”
Ramaswamy, who wrote the book “Woke, Inc.,” warned that wokeness is “bad for companies and society at large in the long run.”
“Target just put a target on its back from its base of consumers,” Ramaswamy said. “Just ask Budweiser how that worked out for them.”
Target did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
The Republican presidential candidate’s comments came after Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a recent interview that “woke” capitalism is “great” for their brand and “the right thing for society.”
Cornell made the comment during an interview on Fortune’s “Leadership Next” podcast on May 17, days before the retail chain became the target of outrage from customers and online backlash over its June Pride month collection this year, which includes “tuck friendly” women’s bathing suits for transgender people, “Gender Fluid” mugs and LGBTQ rainbow-themed clothing for children.
Cornell was asked to address the backlash to “woke” corporate campaigns, which has caused an uproar among conservative consumers and recently embroiled brands like Bud Light, Nike and Disney.
“I think those are just good business decisions, and it’s the right thing for society, and it’s the great thing for our brand,” Cornell said.
“The things we’ve done from a DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] standpoint, it’s adding value,” he continued. “It’s helping us drive sales, it’s building greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, and those are just the right things for our business today.”
Less than a week after the release of the podcast, Target women’s-style swimsuits that advertise “tuck-friendly construction” to hide male genitalia went viral, angering some customers and igniting outrage online. In the days since, customers have laid into the brand for its Pride displays in stores across the country; the display of Pride-themed children’s items and baby onesies in particular have irked many customers.
The reaction seemingly worried Target management, which took “emergency” action Friday by directing some managers and district senior directors to tamp down the Pride sections in their stores over fears of recreating a “Bud Light situation,” Fox News Digital first reported Tuesday, citing a Target insider.
Fox News Digital’s Yael Halon contributed reporting.