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Zara faces backlash, boycott calls over controversial ad resembling Gaza images

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Zara, the global clothing retailer, has withdrawn an advertisement that stirred controversy for its alleged resemblance to images from the conflict in Gaza. Social media users expressed outrage, labeling the ad “tasteless” and “horrendous,” leading to calls for a boycott against the brand.

The contentious image depicted a model holding a mannequin wrapped in white cloth, drawing parallels to recent visuals of deceased children in Gaza during the Israel and Hamas war. The backlash on platforms like X prompted the use of the hashtag #BoycottZara, with some protesters filming demonstrations outside Zara stores.

Disturbing videos emerged showing protesters with what appeared to be fake babies wrapped in white cloth, mimicking the contentious imagery. In one incident, a Zara store in Montreal was seemingly vandalized, with the word “Gaza” spray-painted in red across its doors.

Protests extended beyond borders, with footage showing demonstrators gathering outside a Zara store in Tunisia. The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority received complaints about the ad, raising questions about its compliance with advertising regulations.

Zara, responding to the backlash, stated on Instagram that the campaign, titled “The Jacket,” was conceptualized in July and photographed in September, well before the Israel-Hamas war erupted on October 7. The company explained that the campaign aimed to showcase craftmade garments in an artistic context, featuring images of unfinished sculptures in a sculptor’s studio.

Expressing regret for the misunderstanding, Zara affirmed its respect for everyone and announced the removal of the controversial images. The Israel-Hamas conflict, which has claimed thousands of lives on both sides, continues despite intermittent cease-fire attempts.

As the controversy unfolds, questions arise about the appropriateness of Zara’s campaign timing and the broader implications for brands navigating sensitive global issues in their marketing endeavors. The company now awaits potential discussions with the Advertising Standards Authority amid the ongoing fallout.

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