In a Nutshell
*Shakira and Live Nation, the company that reportedly designed the controversial necklace, stopped selling the $9.95 piece in the wake of criticism.
*Live Nations said the symbol was based on pre-Colombian imagery and carried no racist intent.
Branded merchandise from pop star Shakira was at the center of controversy because of its use of a symbol that some criticized for bearing a striking resemblance to imagery used by Nazi Germany.
Neither Shakira nor the design’s creators intended a connection to the Third Reich or modern day Neo-Nazis. Still, a necklace the singer was offering as part of the merch collection in support of her current Road to El Dorado Tour featured a design similar to a black sun, or sonnenrad. Ancient cultures had used the sunwheel image, but the Nazis appropriated it, inserting a swastika into the inner circle. As German publication Bento pointed out, the mosaic symbol appeared at the Wewelsburg Castle in Germany that later became a home base for Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler and his infamous Schutzstaffel. Twitter users latched onto the connection, and there was public outcry.
So Shakira most likely accidentally put a nazi symbol on her tour merch and didn’t know it lmao pic.twitter.com/HRjP41owbO— Bill Rickards (@Billfromwawa) June 19, 2018
Dear @shakira, you know that your necklace depicts an important Nazi symbol, propagated by the SS during the Nazi era? It was so popular that Himmler incorporated it into a floor of the Wewelsburg Castle to establish it as the "center of the New World ". https://t.co/00Bfy1Tywm pic.twitter.com/2m0hldq0w9— MaMika* (@Mamika_do) June 20, 2018
Some thought the criticism was overblown.
Live Nation, the events company that reportedly designed the necklace, apologized in tweets.
The necklace Live Nation designed for Shakira’s “El Dorado World Tour” was based on Pre-Columbian imagery. However… 1/— Live Nation (@LiveNation) June 21, 2018
some fans have expressed concern that the design bears an unintentional resemblance to Neo-Nazi imagery. We sincerely apologize for this inadvertent similarity and have permanently pulled the item from the tour collection. 2/— Live Nation (@LiveNation) June 21, 2018
The necklace had been selling for $9.95, but is no longer available. For promotional products pros, perhaps the lesson here is: Make sure you and your clients fully understand the layers of meaning attached to the graphics, symbols, and logos you put out into the marketplace.