This ‘Perfectly Timed’ Photo of a Protester in a Polo Ralph Lauren Jacket Was Actually Photoshopped

This photo, which has been circulating on Twitter and Facebook since July 10, looks perfectly timed: the posture of a mounted police officer brandishing a baton is a mirror image of the Polo Ralph Lauren brand logo on the back of the jacket from a protester. But the image is actually a creation of the artist Marijn Surname, who edited the original photo.

The image that went viral on Facebook and Twitter appears to show a police officer on horseback, in a neon vest, brandishing a baton at a protester wearing a black coat. The logo of the Polo brand, by Ralph Lauren, bears an uncanny resemblance to the scene unfolding in reality. Shared over 75,000 times in this Tweet, it looks like it was taken at the right time.

Since July 10, the photo has been shared in several languages, including French and English, with no indication of the date it was taken or the fact that it was modified. “Incredible photo taken in London in June 2020,” reads the caption of this 200-shared post.

To find the original photo, which resides in the Getty Images library, you can do a reverse image search (click here to see how). The photo was taken by Daniel Leal-Olivas, an AFP photographer, in London on June 6, 2020.

The photo also appears in an article by British media The Independent, which mentions that the photo was taken during a Black Lives Matter protest in central London, where police on horseback attacked the crowd several times. Other photos and videos show mounted police officers attending the protest.

The image shared on social media, with the Polo logo added, comes from the Instagram page of Belgian artist Marijn Surname, who is known for adding famous logos to photos. The artist posted the edited photo to Instagram on June 18, 2021 with the caption “All this Polo on, I got horsepower⁠⁠”, a lyric from Kanye West’s song “Mercy.”

Surname explained to the JowharObservers that he wanted to tackle topics like police brutality and racism by repurposing the logo of a luxury brand:

Nowadays you can’t believe everything you see. That’s also the case for my piece “All this Polo on, I’ve got horsepower”. It’s a photo I found on the internet where I photoshopped the Polo Ralph Lauren logo onto the jacket. The theme of the play is, of course, police brutality, racism and the suppression of public opinion.

I work at an advertising agency, so branding and logos have always fascinated me, especially when used out of context. Today, people have become desensitized to the problems facing the world, but we are obsessed with material goods, especially if they are made by luxury brands. That’s why I try to present problems in an aesthetic and attractive way, so that the viewer doesn’t immediately write them off and think about the subject.

An image of a piece crumbling from an ice formation is superimposed over part of the oil and gas company Shell to read “hell”. Image posted to Instagram by @marijnlastname on May 17, 2021, titled “Moving your future”. A child wrapped in a golden emergency blanket, with the word “Refucci” in the style of the luxury brand Gucci’s logo. Piece titled “All that glitters ain’t gold” and posted on Instagram May 24, 2021 by @marijnlastname.

The Ralph Lauren brand also has a symbolic meaning. It’s a reference to the black hip-hop community of the ’80s and ’90s who defied class stereotypes by wearing Ralph Lauren. By taking something exclusive, which was not made for them and not easily accessible to them, they gave themselves more power.

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