Zara, the fast-fashion retailer, said on Tuesday that it had removed an ad campaign, after critics said the imagery brought to mind scenes from the Israel-Hamas War and called it insensitive.
The campaign, which was called “The Jacket,” featured the model Kristen McMenamy and was photographed by Tim Walker. In one of the images, Ms. McMenamy is holding what appears to be a mannequin wrapped in a white cloth material. In another image, what looks to be white powder is sprinkled on the floor.
“Unfortunately, some customers felt offended by these images,” the fast-fashion brand said in a company statement posted Tuesday on Instagram, adding that people “saw in them something far from what was intended when they were created.” The company said it “regrets that misunderstanding.”
The company also noted in the statement that the campaign was conceived in July and photographed in September, before the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel. The campaign, which featured images of unfinished sculptures in an art studio, was developed for “the sole purpose of showcasing craftmade garments in an artistic context,” the company said.
The photos posted on the company’s Instagram page have since been deleted, but the batch could still be seen on The Cut and Design Scene’s website.
Some customers called for a boycott of the brand over the images. Users compared the campaign’s photos to recent ones taken by war photographers, in which Palestinians carry their dead loved ones in white body bags that are sometimes stained red with blood.
In one particularly poignant photo, taken by Mohammed Salem for Reuters, a Palestinian woman named Inas Abu Maamar, 36, holds the body of her 5-year-old niece, Saly, who was killed in an Israeli strike.
Critics of the campaign felt that even though it was developed before the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the decision to go ahead and release it in December was insensitive to the conflict.
“You’re not aware enough of current affairs to be working in marketing,” one critic posted on social media. “You approved it through ignorance.”
Protesters gathered in front of a Zara store in Tunisia on Monday, according to Reuters, and they chanted while waving the Palestinian flag. Red paint was splattered on one of the store’s windows.
In another video, a small group of protesters walked into what appeared to be a Zara store in Germany with tape on their mouths, waving images from the war and carrying props that appeared to simulate dead children in white body bags.
Some Instagram users added pro-Palestinian messages as comments on Zara’s Instagram statement and its other recent posts.