GAP Ad Controversy Sparks Apology From Retail Giant

GAP Kids' Ad Controversy Sparks Apology
6 April 2016

You may have already caught the controversy over the ad below, launched by Gap this weekend as part of its collaboration with Ellen Degeneres and her clothing and lifestyle line, ED.

The ad campaign features a dance troop called Le Petit Cirque and was quickly challenged upon its release on social media for being insensitive in its portrayal of the one African American child in the ad—the only girl in photo who is not smiling and has another larger girl resting her elbow on her head.

The backlash was swift, with people responding immediately on Twitter and around the internet with disappointment, anger and hurt:

"Proving girls can do anything... unless she's Black," wrote one user. "Then all she can do is bear the weight of White girls. #EpicFail."

Gap, a company that has been often praised for its use of diverse models and its support of stereotype-busting clothing and messaging, particularly for girls, responded by issuing an apology for causing any offence. In this statement to the New York Daily News they say,

"As a brand with a proud 46-year history of championing diversity and inclusivity, we appreciate the conversation that has taken place and are sorry to anyone we've offended... We are replacing the image with a different shot from the campaign, which encourages girls (and boys) everywhere to be themselves and feel pride in what makes them unique."

Turns out, the girl resting her elbow on the other smaller child, is actually her older sister. Their mother, actress Brooke Smith, weighed in on the controversy and defended the ad with this Tweet:


The original tweet can still be found on Twitter @GapKids however, the specific image in question has been replaced with another from the campaign on the company website.

Good on Gap for responding quickly and owning the responsibility for the hurt and anger sparked over this image, but what do you think, is it enough?

TOPICS:   News

9 comments

  • terrinf

    How absolutely ridiculous! What in the hell is wrong with the world? Why do we look to find fault in everything?

  • Stacey V.

    I've read MANY comments from nice white Canadians not seeing anything wrong with the picture. But if we look at it from a non-white perspective (hard to do without some research), it may seem racist. I've seen some shoe

    • Stacey V.

      Shows trying to show us 'white ppl' that race is STILL an issue, just because we don't see it first-hand. So, instead of arguing that the picture is not a problem, Gap could take the high road and shoot an ad showing a few different types of children (gasp) having fun and getting along. Until you've walked in their shoes, you cannot totally understand. :slight_smile:

  • Diane G.

    umm no

  • JMD

    Shame on GAP for bowing down to such a ridiculous reaction. Geez, no one can do anything anymore without offending somebody. Why the hell is everyone so darn paranoid and reading something into nothing.  It has become ridiculous, esp. with companies allowing themselves to be bullied like this. It will continue until someone somewhere says hey, ease up. Everybody seems to think they have the right to judge everyone!

  • JMD

    Shame on GAP for bowing down to such a ridiculous reaction. Geez, no one can do anything anymore without offending somebody. Why the hell is everyone so darn paranoid and reading something into nothing. It has become ridiculous, esp. with companies allowing themselves to be bullied like this. It will continue until someone somewhere says hey, ease up. Everybody seems to think they have the right to judge everyone!

  • Katie C.

    I read the back story. The tall girl and her arm rest are sisters (adopted) so I don't have a problem with it. But I'm also white, so...

  • marz

    I think because the girl isn't smiling and the taller girl is, that's why it looked like she didn't like what was happening? maybe it would've been better if the taller girl has her arms around the girl, then that would've been nicer... than her resting her arms above her head

  • Witchy1

    I think people are just taking this too far, calm down take a breathe and really c'mon, not everything has to have a double meaning!! The girl is IN an AD, that's it folks..... No double meaning here....... It's getting ridiculous .... :(

    GAP you should have just continued with this pic, don't let the hyper sensitive call the shots!

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