Spanish department store withdraws ‘back to school’ ad after social media backlash

The photo of a child's feet from the El Corte Inglés campaign evoked the image of a suicide for many members of the public

The image from the campaign that El Corte Inglés has withdrawn.
The image from the campaign that El Corte Inglés has withdrawn.

Spain’s El Corte Inglés department store chain has withdrawn a photo from its newly launched “back to school” advertising campaign, after members of the public voiced concern that it resembled an image of a suicide.

“Given the consternation that one of the Back to School images has caused, we have decided to withdraw it from the campaign,” a brief statement released by the company on Tuesday read. “Under no circumstances was the intention of this image related to the interpretation that has been given to it, and we apologize if anyone felt offended.”

The photo in question shows a child’s feet wearing shoes sold by the store. The inert nature of the feet suggested a hanging to many social media users. The image did, in fact, come from a full-size photo of the child jumping from his seat, according to company sources.

Previous campaign

The controversy has prompted the company to withdraw the photo from its website as well as from its poster campaign. In its place, the company’s website now shows a picture of a girl with her feet crossed and sat on a raised surface.

Some Twitter users criticized the photo using another promotional image from the chain, in which a group of children are seen pulling on a gym rope, adding fuel to the fire by claiming it was part of the same campaign. Sources from El Corte Inglés made clear on Tuesday that the image in question was actually from a previous year.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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