WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY ( TheStreet) -- Beware: this article is so popular that it might crash the website. Does that sound like a bit of a hype job? It should, as "so popular it crashed the website," has stood as a transparent public relations ploy since the Internet bubble days of the 1990s.

Enter Target ( TGT).

During Fashion Week, when all eyes are upon the latest word in design, Target released a limited edition line by Missoni, normally a high-end designer, who is slumming it for Target's customers. Demand for the line crashed Target's website, which the media saw as an unadulterated disaster for Target. The New York Times called it "an unusual fumble for the large retailer," terming the company "unprepared" and "amateurish."

Who knows? That might even be true. But Target also might want consumers to view them -- and their new line -- as too popular for its own good. The week before, they opened a pop-up store in New York City with a small amount of items -- during Fashion Week, mind you. The store attracted huge lines, sold out in hours and was closed down. Articles about demand incredible enough to choke a store and shut it down flowed freely. Sound familiar? The Times mentions that there was a store that shut down, but doesn't put it in that context. Set beside the burst of publicity the store shutdown engendered, the website shutdown -- well, it begins to look like the oldest trick in the book.

Why does it matter? If Target is manufacturing a crisis (they had little Missoni stock in the store and switched their website back-end from Amazon ( AMZN) to their own operation days ago, apparently asking for trouble) they hardly got blindsided by what happened, as the media implied. They are instead whetting appetites, priming the pump...eh, pick your own cliché. In fact, if they set up this crisis, they are merely doing what retailers -- and websites -- have done since time immemorial: closing down because people love them so much, then trumpeting the love before reopening.

"The excitement for this limited-time designer collection is unprecedented," said a Target spokesperson in a statement, explaining the website shutdown.

-- Written by Mark Fuchs in Westchester, NY.

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At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page. For his "Business Press Maven� column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Fuchs appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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