Posted by: deniseschenasi | April 17, 2011

J. Crew Ad Stirs Controversy

With gender boundaries blurring and the media world becoming slightly more accepting of liberal ideas, when is the line crossed? Is an innocent ad depicting a young boy with nail polish on his toenails too far?

Social conservatives seem to think so. I, however, disagree.

The ad shows Lyons saying, “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”

J. Crew recently released an ad that depicts designer Jenna Lyons painting her son Beckett’s toenails pink. An innocent gesture quickly stirred controversy among social conservatives. Critics of the ad have asserted claims that it is blurring the lines of gender identity and is portraying “transgendered propaganda”. Fox News claims that our culture is “abandoning all trappings of gender identity”. Some have even gone as far as to say that Lyons’ son will need psychotherapy. Lyons nor J. Crew has commented on the matter.

Personally, I think Fox News and other critics of the ad are overreacting and over analyzing the situation. J. Crew has always catered to a fairly specific demographic of people. And it seems that the majority of these people could probably care less whether a little boys toenails are painted pink in a clothing ad. However, it does become interesting to consider whether J. Crew purposely created the ad to incite this exact response from the public. I doubt they thought a simple ad would stir this much controversy, but then again, a lot of publicity has come from it. J. Crew had to know that some type of angry response would come from those people airing on the socially conservative side of things. When it comes down to it, was this a good PR idea? Or simply an innocent ad that blew way out of proportion?



  1. I saw this on the Jon Stewart show!! I was completely blown away! I think this is a great ad, and even if it was supposed to stir up controversy good for them! I mean, what’s really wrong with a little boy having painted toes? When I was little my friends who were boys would paint their toes with me! It just doesn’t seem like a big deal. However, even though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this ad, it’s hard to say if it was a PR idea or not. To me, it just seems like an innocent photo. It seems like they could even be laughing that his toes are painted. I love how you tied this to PR! It’s not something I would have thought to do!

  2. This is the first time I am seeing this and my first reaction was like yours, what is the issue? This is fun and fresh. What I am a little confused about is why J.Crew would do this ad. You explained that you think their consumers would not mind this advertisement but I know a lot of very conservative people who shop at J.Crew and I feel like they would not appreciate this advertisement at all. A company like J.Crew that sells preppier, nicer clothing should have probably really thought about their audience. It could be argued that they were trying to widen their audience with more liberal people but they also risk losing potential customers.

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