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The Gap’s hopelessly naive hoodie GIF is the Kendall Jenner Pepsi moment of the 2020 election

A red and blue hoodie is less a symbol of unity and more a clueless lack of commercial restraint.

The Gap’s hopelessly naive hoodie GIF is the Kendall Jenner Pepsi moment of the 2020 election
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Republicans:

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Democrats:

Absolutely anyone with a pulse:

The Gap:

[Screenshot: Twitter]
Critics have been telling brands since at least 2016 that they need to be culturally aware, to be a part of the conversation.

This?

This was not what they meant.

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Here we are, the day after an incredibly contentious Election Day, one that hasn’t even been decided yet and will be on the slimmest of margins. President Trump has not only declared victory prematurely, but he’s also sown seeds of mistrust in the entire electoral process. The Republican Party has been doing its best to question, challenge, and obstruct legitimate voters. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is already engaging in public spats and recriminations within its own base for the strategy—and down-ballot results—that helped put the country in this moment.

Forgive me for not seeing right now as the time for a can’t-we-all-just-get-along hoodie.

Some brands are so terrified of offending anyone that they’re banking on tugging the heartstrings of both sides here. “See, at least we all have the decency of a comfortable mid-layer in common!” This is the sweater equivalent of last week’s Oreo ad, where the cookie brand imagined a world in which a stuffed toy donkey and elephant could work together to help a poor, defenseless kitten.

Right now that kitten is chain-smoking while scarfing down a failure pile in a sadness bowl.

There are very real structural and systemic issues in the United States that need to be addressed seriously. While all help is welcome, not sure that a struggling mall retailer has secretly had the answers all along. This image and the sentiment behind it suggest a shoulder shrug and a coin flip will do it. Why not just go full Pepsi here and make an ad with Kendall Jenner handing this hoodie to some guy in the back of a traffic-blocking Trump truck?

You want a cute little GIF that represents this election? Get the red arm to reach over and start pulling a blue thread until the whole sweater is just a pile of string on the ground that spontaneously combusts.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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