Gap has already had two ad campaign snafus this year, and the brand is getting heat, again, this time for images distributed in the U.K. The Gap Toddler ads in question, which were reportedly sent out to customers across the pond in an email (they're on the brand's website, too) features four children — two boys and two girls — embodying different personas, Mashable reports.
Twitter users — from customers to politicians and local organizations — quickly picked up on the jarring message created by the side-by-side images of "The Little Scholar" (a boy) and "The Social Butterfly" (a girl). "Absolutely incredible," U.K. Parliament member Chi Onwurah wrote. "It's 2016, we have a skills and productivity crisis and [Gap] is perpetuating gender stereotypes." The female-focused STEM networking group Science Grrl also pointed out the irony that Einstein appears to be misspelled on the boy's T-shirt. (On the brand's website, the typo seems to have been corrected.)
As for those previous controversial campaigns? Earlier this year, Gap pulled an ad for its collaboration with ED Ellen Degeneres following accusations of racism. (According to critics, the editorial demonstrated passive discrimination by portraying the only Black model out of a group of four girls as an arm rest.) A month later, Gap caught even more flak for another viral image, in which the brand erroneously used an image of the Discovery space shuttle and captioned it "1969," the year the clothing company was founded, instead of using an image of the actual rocket used in '69's Apollo 11 mission. (Popular Science quickly fact-checked this.) Besides the "Little Scholar" and "Social Butterfly" captions, other children's merch from the retailer is being scrutinized, such as a girl's long-sleeve T-shirt that reads, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." On the (fairly) bright side, some Twitter users aren't subscribing to the retailer's arbitrary gender divide, instead asking where they can buy the Einstein tee for their daughters. The children's clothing section has been the subject of controversy at other retailers, too: Forever 21 got called out earlier this summer for some problematic boys' graphic T-shirts. We've reached out to Gap for comment, and will update our story when we hear back.