Zara Scales Back Controversial Ad Campaign – WWD

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ADVERTISING CONTROVERSY: After being criticized online for a new campaign that featured statues missing limbs and what some claimed was a wrapped body form, and what appeared to some as a map of Palestine as part of the backdrop, Zara has removed the images from its social media channels.

The Inditex-owned fast-fashion retailer has faced a backlash in recent days, with some calling for a boycott of Zara. A spokesperson for the company declined comment Monday afternoon.

Social media critics questioned the sensitivity, given the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Some have sugggested that the images were reminiscent of ones from the strife in Gaza, where Doctors Without Borders has reported that 17,000 people have been killed.

The photos of model Kristen McMenamy amid what is supposed to be a sculptor’s studio are now also featured less prominently on Zara’s site. That switch was said to be due to other new products taking precedence.

Critics took issue with such images as McMenamy in a studded black leather jacket with what looks like a body form wrapped in white covering resting on her right shoulder. The limbless statues were also a point of consternation, given the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The campaign was said to have been inspired by unfinished sculptures and was meant to play up craftsmanship. The idea was said to be conceptualized in July and photographed in September — before Hamas terrorists truck on Oct. 7.

The company enlisted a leading team to handle the creative for the fourth-quarter Zara Atelier lookbook, which was released Dec. 7. Wearing white powder makeups, McMenamy is featured in a variety of poses, including standing in what looks like half a body cast. Photographed by Tim Walker and styled by Ludivine Poiblanc, the campaign’s art direction was handled by Fabien Baron’s Baron & Baron agency.

Walker’s gallerist Michael Hoppen acknowledged that a media request would be shared with Walker’s office, but the photographer’s team did not respond further, nor did his studio acknowledge direct requests. Poiblanc and Baron did not acknowledge media requests, nor did the campaign’s set designer Shona Heath.

This isn’t the first time that the fast fashion retailer has faced such public scrutiny. Last year some called for a boycott of Zara via social media, after Trimera Brands chairman Joey Schwebel hosted a roundtable with ultranationalist politician Itamar Ben-Gvir at his home. Trimera Brands is the Israeli franchisee for Zara.

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