Meet “Izzy,” Target’s latest model. In holiday ads, Target is featuring Izzy, who has Down Syndrome, playing with a toy designed to stimulate young minds. The print ad, showing Izzy with a toy cube that retails for $49, is showing off the retail giant’s compassionate side. But while many are lauding Target for using a toddler with a genetic disorder, others are saying it’s a shameless marketing ploy.
Writes People.com: “This cute toddler with Down Syndrome is helping to change the stereotype of what a model is supposed to look like. Izzy Bradley, 2, from Stillwater, Minneapolis, graced the pages of last Sunday’s newspaper in a Target advertisement playing with a wooden activity cube.”
Speaking of the photo shoot, which happened in September, Izzy’s mom Heather Bradley, who is the president of the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network (DSDN), said: “She did really well. She sat still while they did her hair and makeup. She pretty much cooperated the whole time.”
Target partnered with the DSDN and solicited for children willing to model. According to the non-profit organizations web page, the DSDN represents “women from all over the United States who each have a child with Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and a great desire to ensure women who receive a DS diagnosis are provided with current information and support.”
Bradley says she is happy that Target is raising awareness of Down Syndrome, and says that people need to see those who suffer from the condition as “normal.” This isn’t the first time Target has reached out to models with disabilities. In 2012, Target used a six-year-old boy in its ads, who also had Down Syndrome.
“I think it really normalizes Down syndrome and helps people to see we’re really just like any other family,” Bradley said. “Whenever Izzy sees the ad, either on television or in print, she smiles, points to herself, and says, ‘Izzy.’”
Bradley added: “When people are confronted with Down syndrome on a regular basis, it really doesn’t seem that scary. It may seem like it’s not a big deal (in a large retailer’s ad), but I really think it is. I hope for the day that someone gets the diagnosis and their initial response isn’t fear. Having these images in the media will impact that.”
While almost all are praising Target, some commenters on related articles however are calling foul. “Unless the other stores have actively denied Downs kids for their ads, I don’t see this as anything special,” writes one. “I think it has more to do with the fact that many parents haven’t thought about using their kids in ads.” Another person writes: “This is nothing more that Target trying to drum up business… and it’s clearly working.”
What are your thoughts on Target using a Down Syndrome child in its ads?