David Jones under fire for apologising to fan who posted controversial Facebook post


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David Jones has been blasted on social media for apologising to a user who posted a controversial comment on the department store’s official Facebook page.

A white woman from the Gold Coast complained about the casting of 17-year-old Adelaide model Adut Akech who fronts the retailer’s latest beauty advertisement.

David Jones launches Spring Summer trends

New trends will be shown at David Jones Spring Summer launch.

Akech, who migrated to Australia from South Sudan when she was six years old, also appears in the department store’s summer catalogue that was released last week.

“Although I think your use of the beautiful black model is very attractive, I don’t feel it represents the general population of Australia,” Elizabeth Ballard wrote.

“How on earth am I expected to relate to this cover? I can’t wear any of her make-up, I don’t know ANYONE who looks like her…she could have been used on the back page…[by the way] did you even notice the irony? On the opening page you have a section on fake tans.

“You people have really missed the mark here, and I’m pissed off and sick of big companys [sic] going for the minority feel good. Please think about your shoppers next time.”

Akech is one of the world’s most in demand models.

During her school holidays earlier this year she closed Anthony Vaccarello’s landmark autumn-winter 2017 Saint Laurent show at Paris Fashion Week. She has also appeared in advertising campaigns for the brand and walked exclusively in its shows overseas for three seasons.

Ms Ballard, according to her social media profile, enjoys wine and occasional selfies. Her post racked up more than 340 comments and close to 300 reactions from fans of the store, not one was a “Like”.

A social media moderator for David Jones apologised to Ms Ballard on Monday before the post was removed from the page late Tuesday.

“We are so sorry you feel this way. We have passed your feedback on to our Marketing Department for their information and consideration,” the official David Jones account wrote.

Before Ballard’s post was deleted some of the retailer’s 490,000 followers expressed outrage at what appeared to be an automated response, with many demanding to know why David Jones “felt the need to pacify and apologise”.

Pete Smith, who claimed to be a “long time customer, card holder and shareholder” said, “Your whimpering reply was disgraceful.”

A David Jones spokesperson told Fairfax Media the initial response to Ms Ballard’s post was not appropriate.

“We will never apologise for representing the diverse make up of the Australian community in our marketing materials. We are proud of the cover and talent used for our spring-summer 2017 beauty catalogue and will continue to proudly celebrate diversity.

“Our initial response to this Facebook post was a standard customer response without thought as to how it would be interpreted and we acknowledge this response was not appropriate or reflective of our values which promote diversity and inclusion in our business and the community,” a representative said.

Akech, along with other models of varying ages and ethnic backgrounds, stole the show at last week’s glittering David Jones new season collections launch.

The cast of models, who walked alongside ambassador Jessica Gomes – who has Chinese and Portuguese heritage – was the retailer’s most diverse line up in recent history.

Fairfax Media has approached Ms Ballard for comment.

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