Global fashion chain Zara is facing calls for a boycott over an advertising campaign which some people claim resembles images from the Israel-Gaza war.
The images – which have since been removed from Zara’s socials – showed a model holding a mannequin wrapped in what appears to be white plastic. However, people soon likened the pictures to war dead in Gaza, comparing the covered dummy to white sheets that Muslim people traditionally bury their dead in.
Similar images from Zara storefronts have also begun circulating online.
Ban Zara … make them pay for this https://t.co/orh17hrbJf
— Ateeb Ahmad (@ateebahmad81) December 10, 2023
— Sadia Batool (@painhub512) December 10, 2023
In the UK, The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had received 50 complaints about the media campaign called “The Jacket”.
A spokesperson for ASA said: “We’ve received 50 complaints about this ad. Complainants argue that the imagery references the current Israel-Hamas conflict and is offensive.”
The spokesperson added that the ASA was reviewing the complaints but was not currently investigating the advert.
A Zara spokesperson said the campaign was designed back in July, well before the start of the war.
Some activists said that the images made light of the conflict. “They are making fun of us and they are making fun of children who have been killed and our houses which have been destroyed,” said one activist in a post.
Another added: “Using death and destruction as a backdrop for fashion is beyond sinister, it’s complicity and should outrage us as consumers. Boycott Zara.”
Users have been sharing photos of the campaign alongside war scenes to showcase the insensitivity. The hashtag #BoycottZara was trending on X on Monday, while the company’s Instagram was flooded with comments of the Palestinian flag and calls for a boycott.
It’s not the first time Zara has faced backlash from pro-Palestinian activists. In 2022, activists called for people to stop shopping from the brand after a franchise owner of Zara stores in Israel hosted a campaign event for the right-wing Israeli politician Itamar Ben-Gvir in his home.
Meanwhile in 2021, the brand’s head designer, Vanessa Perilman, caused a stir when she sent an inflammatory Instagram message to Palestinian model Qaher Harhash.
Perilman wrote at the time: “Maybe if your people were educated then they wouldn’t blow up the hospitals and schools that Israel helped to pay for in Gaza. Israelis don’t teach children to hate nor throw stones at soldiers as your people do.”
The fashion brand immediately condemned Perilman’s comments. “Zara does not accept any lack of respect to any culture, religion, country, race or belief. Zara is a diverse company and we shall never tolerate discrimination of any kind,” the company said. “We condemn these comments that do not reflect our core values of respect for one another, and we regret the offence that they have caused. As a diverse and multicultural company, we are committed to ensuring an equitable and inclusive environment as part of our company values.”
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