You might not have seen it until someone reported it. But an Amazon logo that had just been discreetly redesigned bore a disturbing resemblance to the face of Adolf Hitler – at least according to some on social media.
The much-mocked app icon, with a smiley arrow beneath what looked like a toothbrush-style mustache, was unveiled in January, replacing a shopping cart logo used by the shopping giant online for over five years.
The company declined to say on Wednesday whether criticism of the new logo prompted this year’s second redesign, which dulled scuffed edges and erased a corner of the blue patch, which Amazon said was still meant to evoke a piece. of packing tape.
“We designed the new icon to spark anticipation, excitement and joy when customers start their shopping journey on their phones, just like they do when they see our boxes on their doorstep,” said the company about the initial change of the shopping cart icon. .
While Amazon did not directly respond to questions about whether the adjustments were made in response to social media discussions and reports about the logo, the companies are walking on sensitive ground with their branding and branding. the ability of social media to highlight trends or criticism.
Kara S. Alaimo, professor of public relations at Hofstra University, said that in an age of outrage and social media troll, “branding experts should bend over backwards to examine all the ways which people could misuse or misinterpret their logos before launch. “
“America is only becoming more diverse and consumer expectations about how sensitive businesses are to the experiences of different groups continues to grow,” she added. “If you are a brand, you want to drive and influence cultural change, without catching up with it.”
In recent years, companies have overhauled products, team names and logos, confronting racist stereotypes hidden in plain sight, from breakfast foods to cars to mugs, some confiscated by police. German authorities in 2014.
While some objections have been to symbols and names on display in the public, others have drawn attention to unintentional hidden messages or scrutinized designs that could camouflage or suggest violent Nazi imagery.
In 2013, a JC Penney billboard was taken down in California after some saw Hitler’s likeness in a kettle. Last year, Facebook removed ads bought by the Trump campaign from its platform that featured a red triangle, a symbol used by the Nazis to classify political prisoners.
At last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, some viewers said the scene was shaped like a rune appropriate as a symbol of hatred by the Nazis. Organization rejected the claim.
On Twitter, images of the Amazon app’s logo change were shared widely, in many languages, and reported by several news outlets outside of the United States. In Germany, where reproductions of Nazi symbols are banned, news of Amazon’s logo change has been covered in tech publications.
“Of course you can see Adolf Hitler everywhere if you want to,” Thomas Cloer, a journalist, said on Twitter.
Anti-Defamation League chief executive Jonathan A. Greenblatt said Nazi symbols could be incorporated as they spread, especially by people who do not fully understand their meaning.
The league, which maintains an online database of hate symbols, has already drawn attention to other examples, such as when Zara sold a striped shirt with a yellow six-pointed Star of David, and H&M announced a black kid wearing a sweatshirt that read “coolest monkey in the jungle.”
“It’s always important that people speak up when they see role models in advertising or in design that could potentially be offensive,” Greenblatt said. “Although in many cases this is not intentional, people are rightly sensitive to these issues because of the history and use of symbolism by racists and anti-Semites, from the Nazis to the white supremacist movement. current.
Dr Alaimo said it appeared Amazon didn’t expect people to see Hitler’s referrals and acted quickly to address concerns.
In its statement emailed Wednesday, Amazon said the new app icon “keeps up with recent visual and functional updates.” It launched for iOS in Britain, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands on January 25; worldwide on iOS on February 22; and on Android on March 1.
Melissa Eddy contributed reporting.