Lingerie brand Honey Birdette under fire for incredibly tone-deaf campaign tied to Israel-Gaza war

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published May 23, 2024 at 03:16 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Honey Birdette, an Australian lingerie brand, has recently ignited a storm of controversy with its latest email newsletter campaign, which tastelessly played on a phrase linked to raising awareness about the war in Gaza.

Earlier this week, Honey Birdette dispatched a newsletter to its customers with the subject line “ALL EYES ON AYAH!” The email, which quickly spread across social media, sparked outrage as it closely mimicked the phrase “All eyes on Rafah,” used this month to draw attention to Israel’s invasion of the Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip.

The brand has faced intense backlash from outraged customers who accused Honey Birdette of leveraging the ongoing war and destruction in Gaza as inspiration for its latest marketing campaign.

https://x.com/GGtheSnail/status/1792903389732389226

Journalist and podcaster Soaliha Iqbal was among the first to call out the lingerie brand. Via an Instagram Story and carousel, she condemned Honey Birdette for its insensitivity in using the slogan and the name Ayah, which is a Muslim name meaning “sign of God’s existence.”

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A post shared by Soaliha ✨ (@soalihaofficial)

Interestingly, Honey Birdette’s incredibly tone-deaf campaign is not an isolated incident. A couple of months ago, Zara came under fire for its promotional campaign called ‘The Jacket’, which featured images of mannequins wrapped in white cloth and plastic that some accused of resembling images from Gaza.

Clearly, Honey Birdette missed the memo on cultural sensitivity and tact. The backlash was swift and fierce. Fans and critics alike took to social media to criticise the brand, with many highlighting how insensitive and inappropriate the campaign was.

One user wrote: “Are y’all gonna apologise for this or keep being problematic as always?”

The criticisms didn’t stop there either. Many pointed out that the name of the latest collection was another red flag. “Ayah is also an Islamic name. It’s a disgusting marketing ploy to get more people clicking thinking it’ll be to do with All eyes on Rafah,” another netizen noted.

Following the backlash, Honey Birdette attempted to mitigate the damage. The company launched the lingerie on its website and Instagram without the controversial phrase, opting instead for the less provocative: “introducing Ayah.” As you can imagine, this did little to quell the initial outrage.

The brand also sent out a new email showcasing the collection on 22 May, just two days after its initial email, with a more subdued subject: “It’s all in the details, honey!” But the damage had already been done. The collection’s name, Ayah, was mentioned only once in a small link to the website, and customers had to search for it by name as it was no longer featured prominently on the site.

To further manage the fallout, the brand’s Instagram went offline for several hours, and when it returned, comments were switched off, and all the posts showcasing the collection had been removed.

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