For a couple of weeks — and only for a couple of weeks — Target, via its exclusive Room Essentials brand, was selling a throw pillow with the word “Humanist” emblazoned on it.
Was it a random product? Yes.
Were there pillows with other “religious” labels on them? No.
Was the pillow even referring to Secular Humanism? Who knows.
Did Humanists love the pillow, anyway? Yes.
For reasons entirely unknown to me, @Target is currently selling a pillow embroidered with the word “HUMANIST.” This delighted the @ethicalstl congregation and now we have our own! � #humanism pic.twitter.com/1G1KjyjDVq
— James Croft (@CroftSpeaks) July 28, 2019
I present to you the Humanist pillow, available @Target. Would not have expected to find this at Target but hey stranger things have happened amirite? Thx to @BronwenCarlisle, pretty sure the humanities council in every state & territory is trying to get one. #unapologeticnerds pic.twitter.com/AfhbNBCVbJ
— andrea lewis (@loopdeelou) July 26, 2019
— Kimberly Winston (@kjwinston11) July 18, 2019
— Maggie Ardiente � (@MaggieArdiente) July 24, 2019
This might be the weirdest thing I found at target. It’s hard to find humanist anything and pillows are just chilling on the shelf? pic.twitter.com/WiLNvIKj69
— Lisa Ledford (@lisa_ledford) July 30, 2019
And then, a couple of days ago, the item just completely disappeared from Target’s website. You can’t buy it even if you want to hand them all your money. There’s no explanation — or even an acknowledgment that the product ever existed. (There may be a few still in stores, as that last tweet suggests, but if you can’t find it in real life, you’re out of luck.)
Why did the product disappear? Was it a limited run item? Was it on their website by mistake… somehow? Was there a safety recall? Did someone realize, far too late, that the word had a religious connotation and that’s not what the company was going for?
According to some people online, when they inquired about the product, they were told by Target that “customer feedback” led to the item getting yanked. Whatever the case, anyone who had already purchased the pillow online had their orders cancelled.
I have reports that @Target have recalled their Humanist pillow after "customer feedback." OUTRAGEOUS!!!!! XD
— James Croft (@CroftSpeaks) July 29, 2019
So, just found out than due to "customer complaints" Target has immediately discontinued the Humanist Pillow! What the actual f*ck?! This is really amazing and I am truly… https://t.co/LnqvCQfYTT
— Gene Elliott (@GeneElliott) July 30, 2019
— Maggie Ardiente � (@MaggieArdiente) July 30, 2019
Me and my Humanist friends were supposed to be buying your Humanist throw pillows, but you've suddenly recalled them, pulled the online product page, and cancelled all online and pick-up orders � pic.twitter.com/CLLoH4Fccx
— Mollie Christine (@molliechristine) July 30, 2019
If there was some organized effort to complain about the item, I couldn’t find evidence of it. So was the item taken down because of just a couple of complaints?
Target won’t tell me.
I’ve emailed them, called their corporate offices, and spoke to a representative via Twitter, and the only response I’ve received about the product’s removal is: “We don’t have any information to provide on your inquiry.” (There was no mention of any complaints.)
So as it stands, a major retailer released a product that people liked, and wanted to buy more of, and didn’t even require paid advertising… and then removed it for reasons nobody can understand, and they’re not explaining why.
Makes no sense to me.
For now, the American Humanist Association has launched a petition asking Target to bring back the item. But the petition is the only option you have until the for-profit company makes the (apparently difficult) decision to… take your money.
By the way, Dr. James Croft has a number of questions for Target to answer. I like the last one a lot.