Gap's Use of Jennifer Hudson Ill-Advised

Doesn't Exactly Conjure Up Pleasant Holiday Thoughts

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The holiday season starts when advertisers say it does. It's a scratchy truth we've all come to embrace lovingly and with our wallets, marked by the molting of department-store windows and Starbucks' healthy disregard for seasonal relevance (Christmas cups launched on Election Day, people). Mostly it's just a lot of red and smiles being thrown at consumers.

The Gap's recent slate of holiday campaigns are no different: grinning, ebullient celebrities vogue-ing it up in chunky sweaters, brimming with goodwill and disposable income. One of the ads, released this week, features a shot of a smiling Jennifer Hudson.

In light of her recent, highly publicized family tragedy, such an ad is perhaps not Gap's best gambit.

While we don't want to make light of the incomprehensible pain Hudson must be grappling with, we've got to wonder if the folks at Gap have their khaki-loving heads on straight. After all, the idea of holiday-themed ads is to conjure up notions of joy, not triple homicide. This wasn't just some story splashed on supermarket tabloids. This was on the cover of heartland-favorite People.

Hudson was photographed for the ad back in July, and according to Gap spokeswoman Olive Doyne, was given the option to back out. "She said she wanted to be a part of it and that we should move forward," Doyne says.

Oh. Well. In that case ...

But someone should point out that what might be good for Hudson isn't necessarily good for the brand.