Is This Offensive Johnny Farah Ad The “Worst Ad Of The Year”?

This ad was made in an effort to “celebrate” the collaboration between Johnny Farah, a Lebanese designer of luxury belts, bags, and accessories, and photographer Joe Kesrouani, but it ended up being more horrifying than anything. The photo features a man, inexplicably covered in like ten different belts, pushing a woman forward with his hand while pulling her neck back with a belt. To make matters worse, her head is covered by one of Farah’s luxury leather bags. According to Farah, however, this is all in the name of art!

Farah owns JF stores in New York, Beirut, and Dubai, but the collaboration event is in Beirut, so Beirut was the first place to witness the “art.” A blog, Beirut Drive-By, was the first to post the image. The blog also contacted Johnny Farah for comments on his offensive advertising. His response:

Thank you for your email. You have probably received our apology by now clarifying that the photograph is not an ad but was taken as part of a photography exhibition. The people in the pictures are not models, but members of the general public that walked into the store that day and chose their own poses. The whole event was light-hearted and fun and the picture in question may not have portrayed that which is why we have changed the image.

In no way did we mean to degrade women, and I am sorry that you were offended.

I really hope to see you next week so you can get an understanding of what the project is really about.

Kind regards,

Farah did change the image for the event to just a bunch of women with leather bags on their heads which, although less offensive than the strangulation ad, I am still super confused by. Even though Farah claims that the photo was art and not advertising, it was a promotion for an event for his brand and therefore advertising his brand. It is an interesting idea to have the general public come in and pose as they like, but maybe a little more supervision should have been involved because this photo clearly crosses the line. I also definitely feel no desire to buy any of those belts or bags, so this was pretty mucha failure on all fronts.