Marks & Spencer, a renowned retail brand, recently found itself embroiled in a controversy over a Christmas advertisement that seemingly depicted the burning of colors resembling the Palestinian flag. In response to mounting criticism, the brand issued an apology and removed the post, but the repercussions of this incident have been far-reaching.
The Controversial Post and Apology by Marks & Spencer
The contentious advertisement in question featured traditional, festive-colored red, green, and silver Christmas party hats placed in a fire grate. Marks & Spencer’s original intent was to humorously convey that not everyone enjoys wearing paper Christmas hats during the holiday season. However, the post was widely interpreted as depicting the burning of Palestinian flag colors, sparking outrage.
On Instagram, a user posted a TikTok video that captured the controversy, allowing them to showcase the brand’s reaction to the initial backlash. The TikTok user criticized the response as condescending and raised questions about the brand’s public relations team’s awareness of current events.
View this post on Instagram
In their apology, Marks & Spencer clarified that the image was an outtake from their Christmas advert, filmed in August, and reiterated that their intention was not to cause offense. The brand acknowledged the unintentional hurt caused by the post and promptly removed it.
Social Media Backlash
The controversial post triggered a substantial backlash on social media platforms, with many individuals and pro-Palestine advocates expressing their discontent. Some critics contended that the brand’s explanation was insufficient and questioned the imagery in the advertisement. A particular screenshot of a woman with blue and white eyeliner with flames in her eyes came under scrutiny.
Boycott marks and spencers if you’re boycotting everything else, this is so messed up pic.twitter.com/J35s45PL3w
— amir ???? (@amirnrf) November 1, 2023
anyway i saw this on marks and spencers instagram account for their christmas advert and it’s pretty obvious what they’re trying to convey here lol so please boycott your local marks and spencers #FreePalestine #BDSMovement pic.twitter.com/qq02Em86Zy
— HanDonald McSeungmin (@h922js) November 1, 2023
Social media users widely shared their disapproval, calling for a boycott of Marks & Spencer and labeling the situation as “messed up.” The brand’s response on Instagram was met with criticism for being perceived as patronizing and out of touch with current affairs.