Marks & Spencer has apologised following accusations that an outtake from its star-studded Christmas advert showing burning coloured paper hats resembled the Palestinian flag.
The image, shared to M&S’ official Instagram account, showed red, silver, and green paper hats thrown into a lit fire, with the caption: “This Christmas, do what you love… like saying no to paper hats” with the hashtag #LoveThismasNotThatmas.
Some social media users accused the supermarket brand, suggesting the paper hats mirrored the colours of the Palestinian flag, amid the escalating conflict in Israel and Gaza. More than 1,400 Israelis have died and 8,700 Palestinians since Hamas militants launched a surprise terror attack on Israel on October 7.
The violence has plunged Gaza into a humanitarian crisis as Israeli military forces bombard the territory with rocket strikes.
M&S said in a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday: “Today we shared an outtake image from our Christmas Clothing and Home advert, which was recorded in August.
“It showed traditional, festive coloured red, green and silver Christmas paper party hats in a fire grate.
“While the intent was to playfully show that some people just don’t enjoy wearing paper Christmas hats over the festive season, we have removed the post following feedback and we apologise for any unintentional hurt caused.”
The promo was part of a wider campaign as the store kicked off the festive ad season by encouraging people to shun the endless chores of Christmas and focus on enjoying themselves.
Using a line-up of famous faces including singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Marvel actress Zawe Ashton, Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham, and Queer Eye’s style expert Tan France, the retailer’s message for its shoppers is to put themselves first.
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