We doubt Daddy Warbucks would approve!
Consumers are slamming Target for a series of in-store ads for the new Annie For Target line of kids' clothing line, calling the company "utterly disrespectful" in a petition created on Change.org.
The controversy occurred after Target customers began noticing that the campaign features white models, despite the fact that the newly released version of Annie stars African-American actress Quevenzhané Wallis, who also attended the brand's launch.
A petition was subsequently created asking for Target to apologize to Wallis in addition to requesting that they remove the in-store ads.
"In the current stench of racism and division amongst Americans, why would Target singlehandedly disrespect Quvenzhané Wallis and add more pain to injury as it relates to race relations?" the petition states, calling the decision to use Caucasian girls in the ads "misleading."
"Although Annie is a fictitious character, there has been a major uproar from protesters stating that they would not support the movie due to the star being African American," the petition reads. "Is the reason why Target maliciously hid Quvenzhané Wallis or refused to use an African American girl to depict Annie in their ads?"
Target has since responded to the petition, which has garnered nearly 12,000 signatures, and insists that the campaign features young women of all races.
"Girls from a variety of backgrounds were featured within the campaign, reflecting that anyone can embody the spirit and character of Annie," a store rep said in a statement to E! News. "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."
The creator of the petition has since posted Target's response, as well as her own reaction to the company's statement.
"Clearly I can see the ads with the African American girl in them, that is great! However, who wore the Red Dress and Locket? Annie! Every photo with the red dress has beautiful girls...just not our girls," she writes. "Also, EVERY Target Nationally does NOT display the diverse ads in each store which has been confirmed by dozens of consumers Black, White, Spanish etc.- that is a problem! Some say that I am whining, some say its race baiting, I call it bringing it to Americas attention that things should be done much better. That's all."