When the generally non-controversial Rachael Ray recently appeared in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial sporting a scarf resembling a traditional Arabic keffiyeh, the outcry forced the company to yank the ad. "What seemed like a simple style choice suddenly ignited a long-simmering debate about the politics of clothing and the power of context," opines the The Wall Street Journal, leading them to wonder: "What are the rules of fashion and politics?"
Given the bland, appease-everyone sensibility of corporate America, common sense will tell you the stylist didn't choose the scarf for its similarity to Yasser Arafat's accessory of choice; however, it was, in all likelihood indirectly influenced by the politically-charged headdress, first by way of Balenciaga (the Fall 2007 collection)...and then popularized (ironically!) by Urban Outfitters with their less-than-subtle Desert Scarf.
While branding expert Cliff Medney, CEO of Eastwest Marketing Group, is of the mind that such kerfluffles mean that marketers will start to pay more attention to the non-verbal messages conveyed in advertising wardrobe choices, this political correctness juggernaut will most likely lower the bar on advertising, making it more boring than anyone ever thought possible. According to Wes Brown of Iceology, a market research firm: "All you'll get is very bland, generic branding where nothing stands out for anything because God forbid you should offend one person."
- Lesley Scott
||...& don't miss: