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Zara's brand sentiments plummet after controversial ad resembling Gaza victims

Zara's brand sentiments plummet after controversial ad resembling Gaza victims

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Fashion retailer Zara's brand sentiments have dropped after it released a new ad campaign that had striking resemblances to scenes coming out of the ongoing war between Gaza and Israel. 

The campaign, which was released on all the retailer's social media platforms, features the Zara Atelier collection modelled by Kristen McMenamy. The campaign shows McMenamy modelling the clothes amidst white debris, rubble and, most strikingly, mannequins that are wrapped completely in white shrouds similar to those being used to wrap dead bodies in Gaza. 

Don't miss: M&S apologises over Christmas ad controversy: Will it be enough to weather the PR storm?

According to media intelligence firm CARMA, the retailer saw brand sentiments plummet to 76.4% negative and only 4.2% positive after the ad was released. Prior to the incident, it had 31.6% positive sentiments and 13.6% negative sentiments. 54.8% of sentiments were neutral, according to CARMA.

"It was likely largely neutral because it is a clothing brand that enjoys consistent branding and that has customers who appreciate its designs and quality and hence may not necessarily be discussing it on social media," said Divika Jethmal, head of marketing Asia at CARMA. 

True enough, prior to the incident, Zara had a word cloud that largely referenced its fashion items, its team and its business. 

After the incident, Zara's word cloud shifted dramatically to include words such as "boycott", "disgusting", "outrage" and "genocide".

As of the time of writing, the campaign photos are still on Zara's social media channels. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out for more information.

Zara is not the only brand to face backlash over insensitive ads that netizens have drawn connections with to the war. Recently, lifestyle brand Marks and Spencer's (M&S) brand sentiments plummeted after it faced backlash over a Christmas advertisement that was perceived to be offensive to Palestinians. 

The retailer posted an outtake for an ad on Instagram. The picture showed Christmas paper party hats being burned in a fireplace. It captioned the post "This Christmas, do only what you love... like saying no to paper hats (although, if we're honest, we're partial)."

The post, which has since been deleted, drew heavy criticism from netizens who noted that the colors of the hats being burned were in the same colours of the Palestinian flag. 

After taking down the ad, M&S issued an apology on its site saying that the ad was recorded in August and that 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," it said. 

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Zara apologises for not allowing transwoman into female fitting room

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