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Big, Advertising Specialties, Dallas, TX

A Fashion Faux Pas, Quickly Corrected

by Susan Morgan on May 30, 2008

This week, Dunkin Donuts pulled an online ad featuring benign and smiling TV hostess Rachel Ray. The reason? The black and white scarf (chosen by a stylist for the advertising shoot) Ray wears in the ad looked too much like a garment known as a keffiyeh — a traditional headdress worn by Arab men and often associated with jihad. 

Look at the photos here to judge for yourself if the garments are similar. 

Many who saw the ad, thought the scarf looked very much like one often worn by Yasser Arafat, and seen continually on beheading nad hostage taking videos. And while some claim the keffiyeh is a common fashion accessory in parts of the world, others wonder how those same souls might feel if a KKK style hood was to appear on the runways of Paris or Milan.

In our better-be-vigiliant post 9/11 world, the association between accessory and jihad hit too close to home for conservative bloggers all over the web. An uproar ensued and a boycott was threatened. Most vocal of all, commentator Michelle Malkin (a loyal Dunkin Donuts customer as it happens) posted a sharply worded article on her own site late last week, adding updates as the situation changed.

Stories about the ad also ran in both the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times. Under the circumstances, the company chose to pull the ads over this past weekend.

“Absolutely no symbolism was intended,” the company was quick to point out. Company spokeswoman Michelle King said the ad appeared on the chain’s web site, as well as other commercial sites, and had been running since May 7.

For her part, Malkin is pleased that Dunkins has pulled the ad and showing sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to jihad. In these days of political corrrectness, this is a rather surprising change.

As for the rest of us, watch out for symbolism in your business ads (in print or online) and be sensitive to it. It just might make the difference between an expensive exercise of creating and then having to pull an ad, and effective advertising.


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Susan Morgan
Creative, passionate and detailed, Susan brings 25-plus years professional writing experience to a variety of projects — get-noticed direct mail pieces, full line print catalogs, eye-catching color brochures and totally original. search engine friendly company blogs, web pages and online articles.

A lifelong love of storytelling has also produced a full-length novel (Out of the Ordinary published by booklocker in 2007). Susan continues to indulge her passion for fiction with a growing number of short stories (one an award winner in 2004, another in 2008) and finalizing a second novel.

In her spare time Susan enjoys gardening, studying astrology and tarot, being with family and friends and keeping up with politics and current events.

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