Zara breaks silence after pulling campaign following Gaza comparisons, as retailer says it ‘regrets misunderstanding’

12 December 2023, 13:53 | Updated: 12 December 2023, 13:54

Zara said it 'regretted' the misunderstanding.
Zara said it 'regretted' the misunderstanding. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Zara has spoken out after being hit by a wave of criticism over an advertising campaign accused of ‘mocking’ Gaza victims.

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Fashion retailer Zara has said it regretted the “misunderstanding” caused by an advertisting campaign launched by the company.

The campaign showed a mannequin wrapped in white, some are missing limbs, and another bust lies on the floor. Critics claim the imagery depicts dead bodies wrapped in shrouds in Gaza.

The imagery was featured on the clothing brand's website and app but has since been pulled following calls to boycott the brand.

In a statement addressing the issue, Zara said some had interpreted the campaign in a way that was “far from what was intended”.

Posted on Instagram, the statement read: “After listening to comments regarding the latest Zara Atelier campaign ‘The Jacket’ we would like to share the following with our customers:

“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.

“Unfortunately, some customers felt offended by these images, which have not 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 company said the 'Atelier" collection was formed in July and the photos for the campaign were taken in September - a month before war broke out between Isreal and militant group Hamas on October 7.

Thousands of commenters took issue with the photos, leading "Boycott Zara" to trend across social media.

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The brand, which launched the collection on December 7, said the campaign was inspired by men's tailoring from previous centuries.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) earlier said it had received 110 complaints about the campaign.

Zara has now pulled all images of the campaign from its social media page.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, Israel has killed some 18,000 people since the outbreak of the conflict.

It comes after Marks & Spencer last month apologised after an Instagram post showing burning Christmas hats was compared to the Palestinian flag.

The image, an outtake from its Christmas advert, was posted on the official M&S Instagram account.

It showed red, sliver and green paper hats being thrown into a fireplace, with the caption: “This Christmas, do what you love... like saying no to paper hats.”

Social media users compared the colour of the hats to those on the Palestinian Flag, and questioned the timing of the post given the violent conflict in Israel and Gaza.

M&S said in a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday: "Today we shared an outtake image from our Christmas Clothing and Home advert, which was recorded in August.

"It showed traditional, festive coloured red, green and silver Christmas paper party hats in a fire grate.

"While the intent was to playfully show that some people just don't enjoy wearing paper Christmas hats over the festive season, we have removed the post following feedback and we apologise for any unintentional hurt caused."

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