Gap is facing a wave of criticism this month after it published an ad that many people are calling sexist.
The GapUK children’s ad shows two adorable kids: a little boy wearing an Albert Einstein shirt next to the title “The Little Scholar” and a little girl wearing a logo sweater and cat headband next to the title “The Social Butterfly.”
The boy’s ad says, “Your future starts here. Shirts + graphic tees = genius idea” and the girl’s ad reads, “Chambray shirts + logo sweaters are the talk of the playground.”
The differences didn’t go unnoticed. A social media backlash ensued as people bashed the company for publishing an ad that seems to promote gender stereotypes, Fortune reports.
Ironically, the scholar T-shirt happened to include an incorrect spelling of Einstein, which was later corrected.
“Dear @UKGap my daughter & son both love to have genius ideas-please don’t limit them. Ps you spelt Einstein wrong,” Ruth Walker-Cotton commented on Twitter.
“The outfits do look cute, but calling the boy ‘Einstein’ and the girl ‘Social Butterfly’ are harmful stereotypes. Why couldn’t they make a Marie Curie shirt?” Jina Bina commented on a Huffington Post article about the controversy.
Others aren’t so concerned.
“I actually just bought my daughter the shirt the little boy is wearing cause it was cute,” Ashley Curry commented on the HuffPost story. “Rather than throwing a fuss how about just buy it for your daughter. I’m pretty sure it isn’t that big of a deal. Chill.”
It’s not the first time that Gap has been under fire for poorly-planned advertisements. Earlier this year, the company apologized after publishing an ad that many people believed was racially insensitive.
Stereotyping in children’s advertising seems to be a common issue. You might remember the sexist Halloween costumes we wrote about last year, for example. But progress is happening, too, including Target’s 2015 announcement that they would remove all gender-based toy signage.
As for this particular ad from Gap, the company recently told Fortune in a statement that the 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,” spokesperson Liz Nunan said in the statement.
While the sexist gender stereotypes in this ad may not have been intentional, we think a company like Gap is big enough and smart enough to know better. It’s important for consumers to point out these issues and demand answers like they are here. After all, Gap was called out for insensitive advertising just this April and here we are in August with another problematic ad. Where exactly are the little scholars at Gap marketing?
What do you think of the ad? Is the controversy justified? Tell us in the comments.