Macy’s in hot water with shoppers over perceived ‘racist’ holiday ad

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati-based retail giant Macy’s is in hot water with shoppers, including a Queen City councilman, over a holiday ad depicting families that many are calling racist.

Tuesday morning city councilman Jeff Pastor tweeted at the store questioning their ad that shows the same white couple twice with white children, a mixed-race LGBT couple with mixed-race children, and what appears to be an image depicting a single black mother and three black children. The picture went viral on Twitter with people citing racism for showing the only single-mother family portrayed as a black family.

“Hey Macy’s what’s wrong with this picture?" Pastor asked in the tweet.

We talked with Pastor today who shared this quote with us: “The only single parent was the black mother. We have multiple, loving, interracial, different parents, beautiful families. But the only picture you have is a single, black mother.”

Pastor is not the only one who took offense with the ad and voiced his displeasure. Hundreds of potential shoppers took to Twitter to tweet their grievances to the company. They took issue with the ad for showing the only black family as having a single mother with no father present.

Macy’s began responding to Twitter users Sunday morning.

The first person the retail giant appears to have responded to is a Twitter user named Ira who called out the company for not including a black father in the image. Macy’s responded by Sunday afternoon offering an explanation that said in part the images were “intended to celebrate families and togetherness, never to offend.”

Councilman Pastor told us he accepts that apology but added that picture shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

“It’s not like they did it with ill intent. But it’s somebody within diversity and inclusion missed that picture.” said Pastor.

The company also said in their original statement via Twitter “it’s important for us to know when we’ve missed the mark.”

After the initial tweet and response, complaints began flooding Macy’s Twitter account. Macy’s immediately began responding to angry customers quickly with the same copied-and-pasted statement.

By Monday evening, the company began offering a longer statement via a three-part Twitter response to the hundreds of angry people still flooding their mentions.

The new and longer response thanked users for offering feedback on their ‘holiday pajama product images’ and apologized for an unintended offense.

Part two of their new response told customers the images were ‘product images’ that were cut and pasted together and not run in an advertisement from Macy’s.

The final part of Macy’s new statement informed Twitter users that they know they are at ‘our best when what we do fully reflects the rich diversity of our colleagues, costumers and communities.’

Macy’s also said they’ve shared the comments with their team and are making changes so customers see ‘balanced images when shopping online.

The company did not respond to Jeff Pastor but their GVP of Corporate Communications did respond to FOX19 NOW when asked to comment on the controversy.

Radina Russell, GVP of Corporate Communications with Macy’s Inc., echoed the statement on Twitter by reiterating that the images were not an ad, but a collection of images cut and pasted together from their website.

Below is a statement from Russell:

"We appreciate everyone who reached out to share feedback about our holiday pajama product images on Macys.com – we want our customers to tell us when we don’t get it right.

We apologize. It was certainly not our intent to offend anyone.

Macys.com features a rotating selection of family pj product images that were intended to celebrate families and togetherness. The collection of images people may have seen on social media were actually individual product images that were cut and pasted together rather than an advertisement from Macy’s. That said, based on a customer’s journey through our site, they may not have seen the full suite of images spread across different pages on Macys.com.

We listened. And we updated Macys.com so that our customers now see more balanced pj images when shopping online with us. We also plan to have a thorough internal discussion on how to be more thoughtful in the future. Thank you again to everyone who reached out."

As of Tuesday afternoon, Macy’s had stopped responding on Twitter to users complaining about the images.

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