I read this story the other day on how a Gap ad featuring Sikh model, actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia was vandalized with racist comments in the Bronx. The poster had the words “Make Love” replaced with “Make Bombs”. The vandals also added “Please stop driving taxis” underneath. I won’t even start on how ignorant the comments are! What I liked about this story though is the happy ending – people coming together to show their support for Waris and giving Gap kudos for embracing diversity and how they handled the situation.
The picture first came to light when a friend of Arsalan Iftikhar’s posted it on Facebook. Iftikhar, senior editor of The Islamic Monthly retweeted the picture on Twitter where it gained traction. As soon as Gap caught wind of this, they reached out to find out the location of the vandalized poster. Since they couldn’t replace the poster right away, they immediately changed the background on their Twitter account instead to the picture featuring Waris. This happened over just 2 days!
This is a perfect example of a company doing social media right – Gap found out about the poster, responded and took action publicly and reinforced their stance with immediate action (by changing their Twitter background image). The picture only became viral after many people joined in in retweeting and sharing the image. Social media gave the people a voice and the brand listened.
Twitter via Gap
I also am impressed with this latest campaign of Gap’s! This picture of Waris is actually part of the “Make Love” campaign for the 2013 holiday season. The campaign also features many other activists and cultural icons in film, design, music and art. Gap’s marketing message has been to spread love, celebrate inclusion and diversity. The images that are a part of the campaign are beautiful and powerful! Good job in defining the brand as a ‘feel good’ brand!