This holiday season, Gap’s advertising/marketing technique consists of a #MakeLove campaign, which features culturally-inclusive and various diverse models. While the campaign was to promote love, one of their ads featuring Sikh model Waris Ahluwalia, who wore a turban in the ad, received some hate and mass attention. This hate was confused with the misunderstanding between Sikh and Muslim religions. Although the ad with Ahluwalia received discrimination, he is actually in the art and fashion community. This particular ad was located in a subway station within the Bronx. The vandalism crossed out “love” to form “Make Bombs” and also wrote ,”Please stop driving TAXIS.” Senior editor at The Islamic Monthly and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com, Arsalan Iftikhar came across a photo of the ruined ad and decided to share it on his Twitter (@TheMuslimGuy) and Facebook. Although @TheMuslimGuy did not tweet to Gap directly, Gap tweeted back to him saying, “@MuslimGuy Hi there. Thanks for informing us. Can you please follow & DM us? We’d like to know the location of this.” In solidarity, Gap then proceed to change their Twitter background photo to the original ad with Ahluwalia.
Using Mill’s Utilitarianism principle, Gap’s decision to act and respond is ethical by working towards a desirable end. Gap not only responds to their vandalized ad, but also to society’s mistake of racism, stereotyping, and underrepresentation of diverse models. After Gap’s reponse, the Sikh community began a “Thank you, Gap” campaign for appreciation of including a Sikh model. A letter to Gap articulates,
“By placing a Sikh model in prominent locations on billboards, direct mail advertising and digital channels, you have raised the profile of Sikhs in ways the community couldn’t have accomplished with its limited resources. The community has tremendously benefitted from the attention it has received through Gap’s marketing campaign.”
Society has an issue with being culturally inclusive to different religions, ethnicities, and, in this case, expression of culture through fashion. Gap’s decision empowers the Sikh community, as well as all diverse communities, and provides realistic and relevant models in the world of fashion and advertising. There is importance to represent all ethnicities and body types in advertising. In addition, there is importance to educate oneself to know differences and not jump to assumptions. For example, the vandalism was addressed to the Muslim community, despite featuring a Sikh model.
Gap’s #MakeLove Campaign: