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Gap's Quick Response to Vandalized Waris Ahluwalia Ad Is an Example in Exemplary Retailer Behavior

Gap showed inspiring solidarity in the face of the defaced ad, which features Sikh actor and jewelry designer Waris Ahluwalia.
CAMPAIGN STAR: Waris Ahluwalia
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On Sunday, The Islamic Monthly senior editor and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com, Arsalan Iftikhar, posted a photo on his Twitter of a vandalized Gap ad: It featured Sikh actor and jewelry designer Waris Ahluwalia and filmmaker Quentin Jones, with the caption changed from "Make Love" to "Make Bombs," as well as the phrase "Please stop driving TAXIS."

Gap responded the next day, tweeting back at Iftikhar and asking for the ad's location. The "#MakeLove" holiday campaign features diverse models from various backgrounds. The multinational clothing company, headquartered in San Francisco, also showed solidarity against such actions by changing its Twitter background to the original campaign photo with Ahluwalia.

Gap's responsive attitude led members of the Sikh community to create a "Thank you, Gap" campaign, showing their appreciation of the retailer's inclusive marketing approach. A letter, which welcomes fans to submit to the company, reads, "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."

Ahluwalia, a designer who starred in Wes Anderson's 2004 The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and was named one of Vanity Fair's best-dressed in 2010, posted an adorable photo of two kids re-creating the Gap ad on his Facebook.

 

Also joining Ahluwalia in Gap's #MakeLove campaign are singer Tony Bennett, LGBT rights activist and singer Cyndi Lauper with Broadway star Billy Porter, actress Connie Britton with her adopted son Yoby, Our America host Lisa Ling with her baby girl Jett, hip-hop musician Q-Tip with social activist Harry Belafonte, and posing together, actresses Malin Akerman, Mickey Sumner and Ahna O'Reilly.

Given recent reports of alleged racial profiling at major retailers including Barneys New York and Macy's, as well as reports about Abercrombie & Fitch's alleged company practice of discriminating folks smaller than a size 00, it's refreshing to see a fashion company take matters into its own hands in a way that is both inclusive and professional. Here's hoping more retailers will follow suit in the event they're struck with a similar incident.

 

stephanie.chan@thr.com 
@stephmchan

 

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