Controversial products and ads

Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT) August 26, 2015
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Several online retailers are selling variations of the ensemble Caitlyn Jenner wore for her Vanity Fair cover as a potential Halloween costume. An online petition is urging them to stop selling the costume, arguing it is exploitative and transphobic. "To make a costume out of a marginalized identity reduces that person and community to a stereotype for privileged people to abuse," the petition says.
PacSun stores have reportedly angered some shoppers with this upside-down flag shirt. CNN affiliate KABC-TV reports that the company removed the $24 item -- which is a part of rapper A$AP Rocky's clothing line -- after a customer started #BoycottPacSun on social media. In a statement to KABC, PacSun said it values artistic and creative expression, but "out of respect for those who have put their lives on the line for our country, we have decided to stop selling the licensed flag T-shirt and are removing it from our stores and website immediately." from PacSun
A T-shirt featuring the phrase "Hang Loose" alongside an image of a noose was widely panned on social media as making light of lynching as well as suicide. T-shirt maker Tavik and retailer TJ Maxx both apologized and pulled the offending item. psycho girlfriend/From Twitter
Celebrity publicist Kelly Cutrone, among others, has objected to an ad for luxury designer Dolce & Gabbana in which a woman is pinned to the ground while surrounded by a group of male onlookers. The ad was released several years ago, and some publications refused to use it. Objections flared again in 2015 after Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana made comments critical of in vitro fertilization. Advertising in Society
The Anti-Defamation League says a tapestry embellished with a pink triangle, sold in Urban Outfitters stores, looks like uniforms that prisoners were forced to wear during the Holocaust. The group has asked the retailer to pull the product. Anti-Defamation League
Ralph Lauren's holiday ad campaign for its RRL line was criticized for its "assimilation aesthetic" that featured what appeared to be antique photos of stoic Native Americans dressed in Western attire. The design house later apologized and took down the ads. From Ralph Lauren
"Not sure labeling these as 'Fat Girl Costumes' is the best approach." Twitter user Kristyn Washburn tweeted at Walmart on October 21, after discovering how the plus-size Halloween costumes for women were labeled. The retail giant apologized six days later, after media outlets like Jezebel reported on the classification. It's currently investigating how the labeling occurred. "This never should have been on our site. It is unacceptable and we apologize," said Ravi Jariwala, a spokesperson for Walmart. "We worked quickly to remove it this morning and are taking additional steps to ensure this never happens again." From Twitter
Online shoppers were shocked to find a ring featuring a swastika design listed for sale on Sears' website in October. After consumers unleashed criticism via Twitter, and media outlets like Haaretz and Kveller publicized the gaffe, Sears pulled down the ad and expressed regret about its placement on the site. "This item is a 3rd party Sears Marketplace product that does not abide with our guidelines and has been removed," the company responded via Twitter. from
After coming under criticism, Urban Outfitters has stopped selling a "vintage" Kent State sweatshirt that has what appears to be simulated blood splatter on it. Kent State was the site of a 1970 shooting that left four students dead and nine wounded during a Vietnam War protest. Urban Outfitters issued an apology via Twitter and said the red stains were not meant to resemble blood. From Urban Outfitters
Spanish fashion retailer Zara apologized in August for selling a striped T-shirt that drew criticism for its resemblance to uniforms worn by Jewish concentration camp inmates. Zara said the garment, advertised online as a striped "sheriff" T-shirt, was inspired by "the sheriff's stars from the Classic Western films." Jewish Chronicle, London
Victoria's Secret pulled its "Sexy Little Geisha" lingerie in September 2012 after Asian-Americans called it offensive on websites like Racialicious. from Racialicious
The Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana faced allegations of racism in 2012 for earrings that some people thought portrayed racist stereotypes. An article on D&G's website explained that the earrings were inspired by Moorish features and that "Moorish is a term used to define many peoples throughout history." Getty Images
After advertising the shoe on its Facebook page in June 2012, sports apparel maker Adidas withdrew its plans to sell a controversial sneaker featuring affixed rubber shackles. "The design of the JS Roundhouse Mid is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott's outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery," Adidas said in a statement. "We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace." From Facebook
In March 2012, Nike promoted a shoe referred to as the "Black and Tan" SB low dunk, with a planned release date on St. Patrick's Day. However "Black and Tan" also refers to a paramilitary group that is known for terrorizing Ireland after World War I, making the shoe's moniker unpopular in Ireland. Nike apologized, saying that no offense was intended. from nike
In March 2012, Belvedere Vodka posted a controversial ad on its Facebook page that many felt implied rape. Belvedere's senior vice president of marketing posted an apology, saying the ad also offended "the people who work here at Belvedere." from belvedere
The Navajo Nation sued Urban Outfitters for its use of the word Navajo on a line of products in February 2012. From Urban Outfitters
Summer's Eve took down several videos from its website in 2011 after allegations that they were racially insensitive. The campaign was titled "Hail to the V" and depicted talking hands meant to represent women's vaginas. "Stereotyping or being offensive was not our intention in any way, shape, or form," Stacie Barnett, a spokeswoman for the advertising company, told Adweek. "The decision to take the videos down is about acknowledging that there's backlash here. We want to move beyond that and focus on the greater mission." From Summer's Eve
Soon after being posted in 2011, a billboard in New York City promoting the Wodka brand of vodka was removed after critics called the ad anti-Semitic. "We never intended to offend people," said Brian Gordon, the creative lead on the campaign. "But if we're actually offending or upsetting people, that's not in the spirit of our marketing so we're taking it down." Gordon, who is Jewish, said the point of the campaign was to liken the brand to Hanukkah as the "understated" holiday of the season. From Anti-Defamation League
In 2007, computer chip maker Intel was forced to retract an ad that many considered racist. "Intel's intent ... was to convey the performance capabilities of our processors through the visual metaphor of a sprinter," an Intel official wrote online. "We have used the visual of sprinters in the past successfully. Unfortunately, our execution did not deliver our intended message and in fact proved to be insensitive and insulting. ... We are sorry and are working hard to make sure this doesn't happen again."
CNN iReporter Lyndsay Brock, working at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center in Iraq, shared this photo of a Diet Pepsi can that caused some controversy online in 2011. Some said the imagery resembled the Twin Towers and a plane flying overhead. Pepsi responded that any such resemblance was unintentional and that the design was inspired by the skyline in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Courtesy Lyndsay Brock
The makers of Cocaine energy drink were forced to pull their product off store shelves due to controversy surrounding its name in 2007. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had warned the company against marketing a product that makes reference to an illegal drug. From Redux Beverages