Target's Ads for New 'Annie'-Inspired Collection Draw Controversy

Annie petition - H 2014

A Delaware parent has started an online petition protesting the ads featuring a young white model: "How come the new black Annie isn't good enough?"

A Delaware mom is taking issue with Target's new ads for its Annie-inspired clothing line.

According to Yahoo! ParentingL'Sean Rinique Shelton was faced with some difficult questions after her 8-year-old biracial daughter saw an ad featuring a young white model wearing Annie's signature red dress. "She saw the ad and said to me, 'That's not what Annie looks like. How come the new black Annie isn't good enough? Does that mean I'm not good enough?'" Shelton told Yahoo! Parenting.

Although Shelton was able to quell her daughter's uncertainties, she began to question Target's seemingly singular portrayal of Annie and decided to write a petition Dec. 29 demanding a removal of the in-store ads and an apology to the film's star, Quvenzhane Wallis.

"In the current stench of racism and division amongst Americans, why would Target single-handedly disrespect Quvenzhane Wallis and add more pain to injury as it relates to race relations?" she began. "Your recent Annie ads and in-store displays depicts a misleading depiction of the movie as it shows a Caucasion [sic] young lady opposed to the star of the film — Quvenzhane Wallis. Though the model is quite professional, she does not speak to the relevance of the movie or main character. When the original Annie came out, everything was about Aileen Quinn or a character/person that emulated her ... why not now Target? If you can show it online, show it in ALL of your stores with multiple signage with different girls not one!"

In its online look book, which was published in October, there are girls of varying ethnicity modeling the Annie-inspired designs, but according to Shelton and fellow petitioners, the in-store ads didn't feature any African-American models even though the star of the new film is African-American herself.

On Tuesday, Target issued the following response: "At Target, we appreciate the opportunity to hear from our guests. We're proud of our Annie for Target collection, which was inspired by the recently released remake of the family classic and designed by the film's costume designer...With regard to the marketing of the collection, girls from a variety of backgrounds were featured within the campaign, reflecting that anyone can embody the spirit and character of Annie.

"As for the involvement of Quvenzhane Wallis, we had conversations with her team about being in the campaign, but ultimately it did not come to fruition. Fortunately, we had the pleasure of working with Ms. Wallis a number of times, including appearances at Target's sales meeting in September and a launch event in New York City in November. We had a great experience working with Ms. Wallis and appreciate her efforts in promoting this collection."

Shelton's petition has gathered more than 7,000 signatures on so far.