Spanish fashion brand Zara found itself in the midst of controversy after its recent ad-campaign ran into trouble due to striking similarity with recent incidents in Gaza. The company faced huge backlash on social media platforms. After the uproar the company issued a formal apology and removed the campaign.
Zara's campaign, which featured statues wrapped in white, drew criticism for its alleged resemblance to images of shrouded corpses from Gaza, prompting tens of thousands of complaints on Zara's Instagram and the trending hashtag "#BoycottZara" on messaging platform X. The company, in response to the backlash, clarified that the campaign was conceptualized in July and photographed in September, predating the October 7 Hamas attack.
The controversial images were part of the "Atelier" collection, one of Zara's priciest lines, showcasing six jackets. Six posts from this collection were removed from Instagram, and parent company Inditex confirmed the removal of the photos from all platforms. Despite the withdrawal, the "Atelier" collection remains available for purchase on Zara's online platforms.
Zara emphasized that the campaign aimed to showcase unfinished sculptures in a sculptor's studio, not intending to evoke images of the Gaza conflict. The company expressed regret for any misunderstanding and reaffirmed its deep respect for everyone. The decision to pull the campaign marks a rare instance of a major Western brand taking significant action in response to criticism of insensitive advertising.
This is not the first time that the global fashion brand has found itself in this kind of trouble, it faced calls for boycott in June 2021 after one of its head designers, Vanessa Perilman, sent anti-Palestine messages to a model on Instagram. The company denounced the comments and stated that it does not accept any lack of respect to any culture, religion, country, race or belief.
In October 2022 also, Zara became the target of a Palestinian boycott campaign after it supported a far-right politician. The Palestinian Ministry of National Economy filed a formal complaint to the company's headquarters in Spain.
The recent incident highlights the challenges faced by global brands in navigating sensitivities surrounding conflicts like the one in Gaza. Zara now joins the ranks of international brands grappling with the complexities of geopolitical issues, with potential repercussions ranging from social media backlash to actual sales impact.