The Gap UK is getting a lot of backlash on social media for one of its toddler clothing ads in their email campaign. People are up in arms because the clothing giant featured a photo of a young girl wearing a cat-ear headband and a little boy sporting an Albert Einstein graphic tee.
@UKGap get the flipping spelling correct if you're going to use it. #Numpties
"Gap brand has always stood for individuality, optimism and creativity. Our intentions have always been to celebrate every child, and we did not intend to offend anyone," said Gap spokesperson Liz Nunan via email as reported by Ad Age.
Despite the overwhelming amount of criticism, there are some who don’t see the ad as being sexist at all (as noted in the responses to the first tweet above). Some people are calling critics "Over-emotional" and "melodramatic."
One reader also comments, "You as a parent are capable of influencing your child more than Internet ads are. If you're a positive force in your child's life, there's no need to worry about an Internet ad for clothing."
To be honest, I didn't see the ad as sexist at first. I probably would have noticed it more if the little girl was dressed in a cat suit or something revealing. Even though she’s called a social butterfly, that doesn’t mean that she’s not smart. I think the outfit she’s wearing portrays just that (versus the boy's more unbounded look).
But I can see how the advertising points to a bigger issue in advertisement and marketing to kids. Boys AND girls can grow up to be the next Einsteins. It's something we've called for over and over.
And honestly, while we're here, I’m more concern with the lack of diversity of the ad. Gap uses two white children with blond hair. (Surprise, surprise?) It doesn't even try to depict the different types of kids we see every day.
As a black woman and a mother to two biracial children, I like to see more ads featuring a diverse group of people. I didn’t see a lot of kids who looked like me in commercials growing up. And after all these years, you'd think that companies would finally get it.
If you ask me, this is just another reminder that we have a long way to go. In this day and age, everyone should see themselves reflected in ads, especially kids. It plays a huge role in building their self-confidence and learning how to appreciate the skin they're in early on.
I also took a little poll of my own on Facebook. I asked my friends if they noticed anything wrong with the ad. The results were mixed with some agreeing with the sexist reference and others taking issue with the lack of diversity.
Any way you slice it, we all can agree that this is a failed attempt at getting people to do their back-to-school shopping at Gap.