Not everyone is excited to welcome Target to the neighbourhood.
A Canadian ad from the major retailer has ruffled some feathers over its use of the 'Mr. Rogers' theme song 'Won’t You Be My Neighbor.'
"Like millions of others, I grew up with 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,' and as I got older I came to understand more of what Fred Rogers stood for in terms of his respect for his audience, and his desire to keep commerce as far away from his message as possible," a published email to the "guardians of the Fred Rogers legacy" reads. "I might have even shopped at Target, or at least looked inside its doors. Seeing those ads... has guaranteed that will never happen."
A blog has also criticized the ad, saying Target's "anti-worker actions in Canada do not fit with Mister Rogers’ values of compassion and kindness and respect."
The commercial, which first aired during the Academy Awards, features Canadian band Dragonette's electro-pop version of the song. Target’s iconic mascot Bullseye rides in a motorcycle sidecar that drives through Montreal streets, past children in a snowball fight, people skating at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, and more Canadian scenes.
Target spokeswoman Lisa Gibson said earlier the ad was meant to highlight Canada’s communities.
“For us, this campaign is really about neighbours and just to really build that relationship, so when we thought of neighbours, who springs to mind but Mr. Rogers?” she told The Huffington Post Canada.
Canadians also had a special connection to Mr. Rogers, who died in 2003; he came to Canada in 1963, and his show 'Misterogers' aired on CBC for three seasons.
Target did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the ad’s backlash.
William Isler, president of Fred Rogers Co., explained the decision to license the song to Target for its first ever commercial use.
“When we were first approached by Target, we immediately felt very comfortable with the respect they had for Fred and his legacy. That is paramount to us,” he told the Globe and Mail in February.
Bob O’Gara, an advertising and PR professor at Point Park University, has pointed out that the song’s use may benefit the Fred Rogers Company, which produces children's "projects."
“The advocacy programs that they have, the kinds of things that they’re working with to keep that whole spirit alive, that’s money,” he said.