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Marks & Spencer's brand sentiments plummet after offensive Christmas ad

Marks & Spencer's brand sentiments plummet after offensive Christmas ad

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Lifestyle brand Marks and Spencer's (M&S) brand sentiments have plummeted after it faced backlash over a Christmas advertisement that was perceived to be offensive to Palestinians. 

Since the ad's launch, sentiments of social conversations around M&S have been 67.2% negative and only 3% positive, according to media intelligence firm CARMA. This marks a significant shift from the period before the ad was launched where conversations around M&S were 34.1% positive and 21.2% negative.

Don't miss: McDonald's MY donates to Palestine fund after distancing from Israel branch's 'individual' actions

Media intelligence company Truescope echoed these sentiments saying that brand sentiments towards M&S globally has plummeted. It saw an average net positive in the month of October of over 87% positive sentiments. However, over the last three days since the ad launched, it saw a drastic drop and now saw a majority of 71% in negative sentiments for coverage observed over the last three days from 1 November. 

This comes after 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. 

Unfortunately, the statement did not quell sentiments and many in the comments called for a boycott of the brand, saying that it was cancelled. 

CARMA also noted that while prior to the ad, M&S saw a word cloud with words such as 'fashion', 'quality' and 'sales', things quickly deteriorated after the incident. 

Over the last few days, there has been a marked change in M&S’s word cloud, with themes associated with the war. Keywords include 'anti', 'apologise' and 'disgusting'.

This is not the first time a brand has found itself in hot water over action taken during the ongoing war between Israel and Gaza. Recently, McDonald’s Malaysia released a statement addressing the fact that McDonald’s Israel donated free meals to Israeli soldiers, causing many online to question if the company was contributing to the destruction caused to those in Gaza. 

In its statement, McDonald's Malaysia clarified that the actions taken by its Israel branch were those of an independent market and that it does not reflect the values or practices of McDonald's Malaysia.

It added that a unilateral decision made by an individual franchisee should not be considered a global action, company policy or an official political stance taken by McDonald's globally. 

Related articles: 
Malaysian government questions TikTok on blocking of Israel-Hamas content
Unilever remains 'fully committed' to Israel despite Ben & Jerry's withdrawal plan
McDonald's MY denies providing aid to Israel, calls claims 'baseless'

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