Gap promotes Sikh model after racist incident
Leading clothing retailer Gap has taken a stand against racism by promoting its advertising campaign featuring Sikh actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia after it was defaced by vandals.
The photograph taken by Robert Gerhardt was published on billboards in the US, however one poster in the Bronx was defaced. Vandals changed the tag line from ‘Make Love’ to ‘Make Bombs’ and scrawled ‘Please stop driving taxis’ across the advert.
A passer-by took a picture of the advert and posted it to Facebook and Islamic Monthly Senior Editor, Arsalan Iftikhar, picked it up. “When I first saw my Facebook friend's photo of this Gap subway advertisement defaced by vandals with racist messages, I wanted the world to see how millions of brown people are viewed in America today,” he told the Huffington Post.
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Within a few hours of Iftikhar sharing the photograph, Gap contacted him directly to learn more about the incident and to find the location of the offending billboard. Furthermore, the company took a stand and made the image its Twitter and Facebook profile picture.
Gap uses the image defaced by vandals as its Facebook cover photo
So what started as a pathetic attempt by vandals to humiliate the model ended up making him one of the most visible models in America during the busiest shopping season of the year. Gap’s defiant stance and the support is has received from the public goes to show that racism will not be tolerated and can be overcome.
Gap promoted the targeted Sikh model on its Twitter page
The Sikh community has also spoken out to thank Gap for its response to the incident. But Iftikhar hopes this is only the beginning. “As the year 2014 inches closer to us, I want to live in an America where a fashion model can be a handsome, bearded brown dude in a turban who is considered as beautiful as a busty blonde-haired white girl in see-through lingerie,” he said.
Gap’s response was admirable, however this incident also serves to highlight the need for diversity in advertising campaigns. Large retailers need to promote multi-culturalism and take a stance against racism. When brands are fortunate enough to have an influential voice they have a duty to use it responsibly.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”