Since the introduction of advertising campaigns, we have come across some very questionable releases over time. Despite the money and power behind these companies, they have time and time again been making controversial slip-ups that have gone public and viral. One may question and wonder, with all the qualified professionals working as a cohesive unit, how does this still manage to happen?
In the latest of questionable media gaffes, H&M is at the forefront, after a controversial release featuring a child model. Originating in Sweden, H&M is now a worldwide clothing retailer that everyone is familiar with. It has been the go-to for many retail shoppers, however, that may now change after an arguably racist advertisement was published this week, leaving many baffled.
The renowned clothing company released an advertisement featuring a green kid’s hoodie that reads “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle”, modeled by a young black child. Instantly, the reactions came pouring in all over the depths of the internet. The obvious connotations that come with the word “monkey” throughout history have sparked inevitable controversy, with people questioning the motives and intentions of the fashion powerhouse. Many are wondering how this idea was passed and why this wasn’t flagged or stopped before being exposed to the world.
The mother of the child model, Terry Mango, has since spoken out about the contentious advertisement. She took to Facebook to release a statement, saying “This is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modeled….stop crying wolf all the time, unnecessary issue here…get over it”. To the surprise of many, she was trying to dismiss the issue at hand, and not make anything of it. She stated that she had even attended this photoshoot like many before, and didn’t make any racial claims about it. Ironically, upon saying this, she said she was called a “monkey” by relentless social media users. “You cannot try to defend my son and use the same words to describe me.”
The controversial advertisement has also caught the attention of celebrities worldwide, sparking a reaction out of them as well. LeBron James re-posted the ad on Instagram, with the child wearing a crown instead, stating “I see a Young King!! The ruler of the world, an untouchable Force that can never be denied!”. Rapper P Diddy also re-posted the image, with the sweater reading “Coolest king in the world”. Additionally, R&B singer The Weeknd, who recently collaborated with H&M on a clothing line, has since ended his ties with the company, and will no longer work with them.
H&M has released an apologetic statement, saying: “We understand that many people are upset about the image of the children’s hoodie. We, who work at H&M, can only agree. We’re deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print.” They have since removed it from everywhere and said that they would investigate the matter to prevent such a thing from happening again. Additionally, they released a second statement of apology to its media list, acknowledging where they went wrong, and sincerely aim to eradicate racism in any way.
Such a mistake can simply not be repeated. In this day and age, we have made significant strides to move from such instances, and it cannot be tolerated, especially not by major corporations. For a brand that has been worn by people of all ages and ethnicities, such a controversial message cannot be promoted. The clothing brand aims to move forward from their PR mistake, and clean up the mess that has inevitably ensued.