THE H&M RACIST ADVERTISEMENT

THE H&M RACIST ADVERTISEMENT

March 20, 2019 0 By Katai Kasemboonchai

When it comes down to clothing brand, it seems undeniable that H&M (Hennes & Mauritz), the Swedish fast-fashion clothing brand become one of the most successful clothing brands in the world with 62 countries and over 4,500 stores all around the world. It was founded in Sweden in 1947. At first, H&M emphasize on women’s clothing and opened a branch only in Scandinavia and then in 1976, it expands to the other countries, England is the first branch outside the Scandinavia and so now on it continue expands their store in the US following by Asia, Africa, and the Middle East

         With the advent of globalization, the number of competitors is promptly uprising. Of course, In each brand has their own campaign advertising, and the strategic plan to convince the customers to choose their products including H&M, but last year in 2018. H&M was heavily criticized about the advertising. It was boycotted by the customers in The US and Africa due to racism. They launched the racist hoodie advertising and it is the beginning of the controversy among black people

The design of hoodie has the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle” wearing by the young black boy while the other kids wearing the hoodie that does not seem to the racism. The hoodie that has the slogan about word “monkey” is the unappropriated word to use, especially for the black people.

This advertising creates the controversy in many countries mostly in the US and Africa. The media users are not withstanding with it. They came out to complain about the ad to official H&M account on twitter and Instagram. They said it is a sensitive matter and this hoodie should be withdrawn from the store. Not only the ordinary people but also the celebrities are not getting it too. They start to tweet and use these hashtags #BoycottHandM, #racists, #coolestmonkeyinthejungle, #notonmywatch as a tool to boycott H&M on social media

Here is an example of the notice.

The chaos not only occur on social media but also trigger to the actual H&M store. The store in US and Africa was destroyed by the protester and demanded that all shops in South Africa be closed

The customers and the other nearby store were affected too

       By way of H&M, they apologize for the controversy that occur from the advertising. They said H&M did not intend to racist and here is the full apology from H&M

“H&M is fully committed to playing its part in addressing society’s issues and problems, whether it’s diversity, working conditions or environmental protection – and many others

Our standards are high and we feel that we have made real progress over the years in playing our part in promoting diversity and inclusion. But we clearly haven’t come far enough.

We agree with all the criticism that this has generated – we have got this wrong, and we agree that, even if unintentional, passive or casual racism needs to be eradicated wherever it exists.

We appreciate the support of those who have seen that our product and promotion were not intended to cause offence but, as a global brand, we have a responsibility to be aware of and attuned to all racial and cultural sensitivities- and we have not lived up to this responsibility this time.

This incident is accidental in nature, but this doesn’t mean we don’t take it extremely seriously or understand the upset and discomfort it has caused. We have taken down the image and we have removed the garment in question from sale. It will be recycled.

We will now be doing everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening again in the future.

Racism and bias in any shape or form, conscious or unconscious, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable and need to be eradicated from society. In this instance we have not been sensitive enough to this agenda. Please accept our humble apologies”

Let’s talking about What is racist?

           Racism occurs in several forms and several places. It includes prejudice, oppression or animosity against anyone due to their color, ethnic background or national origin. Also, racism is abundant. It reflects deeply rooted inequalities in society in history, society, culture, and power. It involves the systematic use of power or authority of the unjust treatment of others. Racism can be revealed by the actions and attitudes of people. In systems and institutions, it can also be reflected. But it may not be revealed at all at times. Not all racism is clearly seen. For example, someone may look through a job application list and decide not to interview color people or judge them by their surname. Racism seems more than words, beliefs, and behavior. It involves all the barriers that prevent people because of their race from enjoying dignity and equality.

In this era, it might be strange if the question “It is human still racist?” has shown up. Many evidences indicate that racism in American society actually exists. Recent survey result pointed out that most color people think that Americans are still racist and having “white privileged”. While most white people have the opposite opinion, by they saying that to stereotype all white people are privileged and treated differently from those of color people is not fair to them.   

           In the digital age, media play important role in perpetuating racism also can shape action and belief of people in the dominant group. Because of the growing influence of media, racism in the past has evolved from “black and white” to the multicultural issue now. The media are easy to access and is a great advocate of free speech ideals, it can also be a breeding ground that harbors hatred. This is very serious because the number of hatreds has developed in recent years is shocking and is also growing at an alarming rate. Moreover, it introduced a new platform for racial discrimination among people through the internet. Apart from mass media, another platform of media such as an advertisement—racial stereotype in advertising, is also the one of the platforms that cause higher rate of racism. Sometimes, it is not always harmful, but it is considered harmful because it is neutralized by the repetition of stereotype and makes it appear ‘normal’. By, we recognized stereotyping as one of the key factors contributing to racism and supported the theory that the media promote racism by influencing the stereotype of the audience on different types of people. Stereotypes were used in advertising as long as they were present, and some thought that various advertisements were more racist than others over time. Negative advertise stereotypes will take several forms, for examples portraying people of color of associate animal product skin clothing in wilderness environments, continual pictures of male – Asian female couples and middle-aged Caucasian women as caretakers or housewives in domestic scenes. The racial stereotypes should be approach to reduce, consumers must be provided the knowledge of these stereotypes in order to look past them.

So, do you think H&M is a racist towards the advertising that they have used a black child as their model wearing a sweatshirt as mentioned above?

Some said that the H&M were being racist, there was a question on the ads that why is the white kid wearing “a jungle survivor” and the black kid “the coolest monkey in the jungle”?

Which seem racist right? The advertising made a lot of unhappy people around the world because it was an inappropriate and terrible in some culture. While on the other hand, some people argue that H&M did not mean to be a racist for what they have done, some said that it was an innocent mistake and others said that H&M advertisement is not racist. Even the mother of the child who was the models said that it does not seem racist on using her black child as a model.  Furthermore, some people who were not black or who have not been racist before found this advertisement very normal. The situation happened harmfully in South Africa, sometimes H&M need to think deeper on the cultural sensitivities. All H&M stores were close temporary after the protest in South Africa but none of the staff and the customer did not get injured when the protests happen, only the product were destroyed by the protesters.

Due to this issue, it does not cause only how people protested and banned against H&M, but it also created clothing waste, which the company has to take down all the hoodies that were already produced and ready to be on sale. It could affect badly to the environment.

H&M has faced a huge impact in the social media such as hashtags on Twitter and numbers of shares on Facebook. People on the social media described the image published by the Swedish chain as inappropriate and offensive. Moreover, the news about H&M have been published and heard all around the world through television and was popular at that time. Even some celebrities, for example, the weekend and G-lazy have posted on their private Instagram about this issue. The weekend, who has collaborated with H&M in the past said that he will never work with H&M again. Furthermore, they said that they would ban H&M for being racist to black people via the advertising and will never supported on H&M.

After the issue got bigger and bigger, H&M held a conference to apologize to the people who were not happy, said that “we sincerely apologize for this image. It has been now removed from all online channels and the product will not be on sale”. H&M have already learned their biggest mistake.

Why does it happen?

This racist advertisement from H&M is happening due to the lacking of thinking about the sensitive matters of the creative team. H&M did not take into account  about the inappropriate culture and sensitivity, or maybe the company are trying to increase their revenue. They just think about how to promote the hoodie and using the inappropriate presenter and ambiguous slogan  that can create the racist content and finally it leads to controversy among black and white people. In additionally, black people were ignored for a long time in the past and still ongoing till this day

Why does it keep on happening?

        Due,we’re currently at once where media messages are winding up so weakened that it’s difficult to pay attention and this just going to increase. But, some company cannot adjust to the social world which is easy to access and widely use that could make people to both criticize and admire the content of the brand. The company has to concern about the message to the audience, either product design, commercial, or brand’s social media.

The other examples

Another thing to consider, H&M advertising is not only the one that undergoes with this problem,the advertising from Dove is another good example of the racist advertising.

Dove creates the advertisement about body wash,but the thing that makes this advertisement is racist is one of the scenes that they using a black lady peeling off a brown shirt and turning to a white lady with beige shirt. It can interpret that white women are cleaner and looking better than black women. Owing to this racist advertisement, there is a lot of criticism on Social media like H&M have gotten from “the coolest monkey hoodie”

Rather than the brand itself ,saying sorry after the advertise was released, why don’t they think first before making this kind of racist advertisement. The company should now stop coming out with the advertisement that would have conflicted against the people. Or where all the brand looking for new audiences through racist advertisement. I believe that change needs to happen between both company and the audiences.

Dove has a long history of racist advertisement of the company soup product. For example , in May 2011, the company this one showing three women standing side by side, each with lighter skin than the woman next to her. Behind them were signs reading “before” and “after”; the “before” sign, positioned behind an African-American woman, showed cracked skin, while the “after” sign, behind a white woman, showed smooth skin.

In the nutshell, from all the racist advertising need to be stopped and the company itself must take this problem as the serious thing by being more caring and understanding how other people would feel.it would be best if the advertising company thinks more about the right than the amount of money they are getting . Racist is a big issued a that need to be stopped and it is not what people should do to other people, we live in the same world and all of us have the same right we all deserve.

References:

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/hm-hoodie-racist-boycott-advertising-people-h-m-a8149246.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/luke-waltham/h-and-m-ad-an-example-of-the-racism-in-retail-clothing-industry_a_23327890/?ncid=other_saredirect_m2afnz7mbfm&guccounter=1

https://www.iol.co.za/sunday-tribune/news/h-and-m-to-speak-at-anti-racism-conference-after-monkey-ad-blunder-17722793

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bdv8F2nAMOA/

https://www.voathai.com/a/dove-ads-racist/4066931.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/08/dove-apologises-for-ad-showing-black-woman-turning-into-white-one

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/01/19/hm-faced-backlash-over-its-monkey-sweatshirt-ad-it-isnt-the-companys-only-controversy/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e3ea69b109f8

https://theundefeated.com/whhw/hms-coolest-monkey-hoodie-and-how-racism-wastes-our-precious-time/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/08/dove-apologises-for-ad-showing-black-woman-turning-into-white-one

https://thenextweb.com/contributors/2018/01/27/brands-consciously-using-racist-advertising-stand/

https://nexter.org/shame-on-you-5-top-brands-worst-advertising-fails