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Israeli Ad Featuring Model Ripping Off Face Veil Draws Criticism

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

This assignment was for "Writing for Public Relations" class and is an analysis of a new commercial by Israeli clothing brand  - Hoodies.


Israeli clothing brand “Hoodies” released a commercial with a new slogan for its 2018 winter collection. In the commercial, the brand ambassador Bar Refaeli is shown wearing a veil with a Hebrew title translated to “Is Iran here?” Refaeli then appears to rip off the veil as the new slogan comes up on the screen saying, “Freedom is Basic.”

Since launched in 2007, Hoodies maintained a positive reputation that provided comfortable clothing with a slogan of “Nature is Beautiful”. The company seemed to care more for comfort than complex and excessive fashion. In addition, the clothing maintained its good values when including different body types, not obeying to the general guideline of beauty modalities for men and women.

In 2014, Hoodies hired model Bar Refaeli, who has political controversies in her background. When she was 18, Refaeli evaded the mandatory military service by faking a marriage. In an interview two years later, she said she does not believe it is worth dying for the sake of your country. During the last Israeli operation against Gaza, she posted on her Instagram account that she "prays for the sake of the citizens on both sides," instead of taking the side of her country.

This time, however, the accusing finger is pointed towards Hoodies, that unnecessarily included a sensitive political issue with their campaign. The commercial clearly states that women in Iran, who wear veils for traditional religious purposes, are not free. Thus, the commercial applies that the basic need for freedom is not a common ground in Iran.

Considering the current political dispute between Jews in Israel and Arabs in Arab countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, etc.), it was a mistake to connect the company’s agenda and reputation with politics. Shaming a culture for its traditional wear will most certainly generate a negative response among Jews and Arabs living in Israel, especially considering Refaeli's background. As a PR practitioner, I must ask myself the following questions: How is this commercial going to make people feel? Is this commercial appropriate with the company’s mission, focus, and values? And what damage can this commercial bring to the company’s reputation?



To answer the first question, this commercial will probably make some people unhappy. Although everything lays for personal interpretation, this commercial does not leave much room for other discussions. It seems like Hoodies was trying to draw attention with their commercial in a provocative way, ignoring the implications it may cause.

My approach towards Hoodies campaign is negative. Though I am not an Iranian woman, I am still offended. This commercial was not meant to be humoristic. It’s targeting a very well-addressed political, social, and ethical issues. It is highly offensive and aggravates both Jews and Arabs.

To answer the second question, I believe that the campaign is incompatible with the company’s mission. A brand that strives to provide comfortable and colorful clothes claiming, “basic is beautiful”, cannot afford to step-down and humiliate ethnic groups like Iran women.

We must consider the possible damage that a campaign like this can generate. This commercial combined with the coincidental choice of Bar Refaeli as a model can hurt people from Iran who may feel their political climate is not liberal enough and hurt the people from Israel who believe in human rights. Moreover, it might be damaging to the Israeli political relationship with Iran as this commercial claims Israel is better than Iran because it is “Free”. This is a bad idea on multiple levels and potentially puts the entire nation at risk.

Holmes, O. (2018). Israeli ad featuring model ripping off face veil draws criticism. The Guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/02/model-bar-refaeli-criticised-over-islamophobic-advert [Accessed 5 Nov. 2018].



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