Zara pulls ‘tone-deaf’ campaign after criticism over Gaza comparison

Zara pulls ‘tone-deaf’ campaign after criticism over Gaza comparison

Zara has pulled a controversial ad campaign which some suggested made a mockery of the war in Gaza.

The fashion giant said it “regretted” a misunderstanding about the photographs from its latest atelier campaign “The Jacket”, after they were compared to pictures emerging from war-torn Gaza.

The bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas, which began on 7 October, has killed nearly 18,000 men, women, and children in the beseiged strip.

In some photographs from the campaign, American supermodel Kristen McMenamy was seen holding a mannequin draped in white cloth. In others, she was surrounded by statues with missing limbs and broken plasterboard, or posing inside a coffin-like wooden box.

In a statement shared on Instagram on Tuesday (12 December), Zara clarified the shoot was conceptualised and photographed before the war began, and that the setting was supposed to resemble a sculptor’s studio.

The Inditex-owned company added its “sole purpose” was to present “craftmade garments in an artistic context” but that the images had been removed after “some customers felt offended” by them.

“The campaign, that was conceived in July and photographed in September, presents a series of images of unfinished sculptures in a sculptor’s studio and was created with the sole purpose of showcasing craftmade garments in an artistic context,” the message shared on Zara’s social media accounts read.

“Unfortunately some customers felt offended by these images, which have now been removed, and saw in them something far from what was intended when they were created.

“Zara regrets that misunderstanding and we reaffirm our deep respect towards everyone.”

The hashtag #BoycottZara began trending on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, on Monday (11 December) as the “inhumane” and “tone-deaf” campaign drew sharp criticism online.

Journalist Ahmed Shihab-Eldin commented: “And the award for most tone deaf brand of the year goes to Zara.”

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority said it received over 110 complaints that the campaign was offensive since it referenced the Israel-Hamas war.

It was also reported that Zara shops in Montreal, Canada, were spray-painted with pro-Palestine slogans after the controversial campaign was released.

Hamas launched an attack on Israel on 7 October, killing 1,200 people.

Israel launched retaliatory attacks, which the Health Ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory says has killed more than 17,700 Palestinians in Gaza, around two-thirds of them women and children.

Additional reporting on wires.

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