On Sunday, psychology professors Sabrina Golonka and Andrew Wilson tweeted images from a promotional back-to-school email that Gap sent to customers in the U.K. The ad features a little boy wearing an Albert Einstein shirt and a girl in cat ears and a logo sweater. The captions read “The Little Scholar” and “The Social Butterfly,” respectively.
Golonka and Wilson captioned the photo “Just...no” and tagged @EverydaySexism and @LetToysBeToys ― setting off a firestorm of reactions to the ad on Twitter.
Parents and scholars accused Gap of perpetuating gender stereotypes and sending harmful messages to young children, particularly girls.
The “Little Scholar” and “Social Butterfly” images are also on display on the Gap website in the Toddler section.
Twitter users also pointed out that Einstein’s name is spelled incorrectly on the boy’s shirt ― an error that has since been corrected on the website.
Regarding the latest back-to-school ad issue, Gap spokesperson Liz Nunan issued the following statement to The Huffington Post: “Gap brand has always stood for individuality, optimism and creativity. Our intentions have always been to celebrate every child and we did not intend to offend anyone.”
Nunan also told HuffPost that empowering girls has always been “at the heart of the Gap brand,” and this back-to-school campaign is meant to celebrate “going back to school in comfort” ― comfort both in your clothes and in being yourself. In addition to “The Smarty Pants” and “The Social Butterfly” archetypes, the ad features a little girl called “The Adventurer” and a boy described as “The Comedian,” she added.
As for the spelling error, Nunan said it was “an unfortunate oversight” and does not appear on the actual product.
Evidently, someone at Gap may need to go back to school to learn to spell.