The American Family Association has tentatively declared a victory in its battle to keep Christmas in American culture, suspending its boycott of Gap, Inc., after the clothing retailer announced an upcoming pro-Christmas commercial campaign.
“We firmly believe that Gap is responding to an enormous amount of pressure from the AFA network,” said Bryan Fischer, the AFA’s director of issues analysis, in a statement. “It looks like Gap has finally decided that a recession is a bad time to take a principled stand on secularism and alienate a huge percentage of their customer base. We’re happy that they’re apparently keeping Christ and Christmas in the Christmas season.”
The San Francisco–based Gap, Inc., which owns Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic clothing stores, had previously made the “naughty” side of the AFA’s Naughty or Nice? list, which monitors retailers that censor or marginalize the word “Christmas.”
“For years, Gap has refused to use the word ‘Christmas’ in its television commercials, newspaper ads and in-store promotions, despite tens of thousands of consumer requests to recognize Christmas and in spite of repeated requests from AFA to do the same,” the AFA stated in its call to boycott the clothing stores. “The Gap is censoring the word ‘Christmas,’ pure and simple.”
But the AFA now reports that Gap has informed the organization of a new, Old Navy television commercial set to launch this weekend with, according to a Gap representative, “a very strong Christmas theme.”
The new ad will include the popular Supermodelquins proudly cheering “Merry Christmas,” and features Christmas trees, lights and ornaments, the AFA reports.
Still from Gap’s ‘Ready for Holiday Cheer’ commercial
The AFA had previously considered lifting its boycott when Gap ran a commercial featuring models chanting, “Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, Go Kwanzaa, Go Solstice. … You 86 the rules, you do what feels just right.”
Though the AFA acknowledged the inclusion of Christmas, it still objected, “Did you notice it? Gap compares Christmas to the pagan holiday called ‘Solstice.’ Solstice is celebrated by Wiccans who practice witchcraft!”
After taking a poll and reporting that 90 percent of respondents wanted to continue the boycott, AFA kept up the pressure – until Bill Chandler, Gap’s vice president of corporate communications, reportedly responded with news of the upcoming pro-Christmas ads.
“As a gesture of our ‘good will to men,’” the AFA’s Fischer said, “we have decided to suspend our boycott of Gap and its divisions until we see the content of this new commercial.”
Buddy Smith, executive assistant to AFA President Tim Wildmon, added, “Gap cheapened the meaning of this holy day in their most recent commercial by putting it on the same level as Kwanzaa and the winter solstice. But, because of the importance of Christ’s influence on the world in general and America in particular, celebrating his birth should be in a class all by itself. We are pleased that Gap is apparently beginning to agree.”
An AFA statement warned that the boycott may be resumed if the new ad proves disrespectful to Christians and Christmas shoppers.