I missed this New York Times piece by Charles Duhigg back in February about Target’s tracking of customers. Which was probably for the best, because reading it caused my head to spin around with rage so fast that it created a tornado and destroyed my house.
It starts with the following:
Andrew Pole had just started working as a statistician for Target in 2002, when two colleagues from the marketing department stopped by his desk to ask an odd question: “If we wanted to figure out if a customer is pregnant, even if she didn’t want us to know, can you do that?”
Which is one of the slimiest things I’ve read all year.
It was outslimed later:
“With the pregnancy products, though, we learned that some women react badly,” the executive said. “Then we started mixing in all these ads for things we knew pregnant women would never buy, so the baby ads looked random. We’d put an ad for a lawn mower next to diapers. We’d put a coupon for wineglasses next to infant clothes. That way, it looked like all the products were chosen by chance.
“And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.”
I basically just hate everything. Literally every single thing. This is the fury I have.