Simple Question: Is This Sweatshirt Racist? Or Are People Too Politically Correct? (Photo)
Swedish clothing retailer H&M released an apology Jan. 8 after one of its ads used a black child to model a sweatshirt bearing a message that many have called out as racist. Still, some are calling for boycotts.
The offending ad was for a sweatshirt that bore the slogan, “Coolest monkey in the jungle.” Similar sweatshirts with other slogans and pictures were also available, with each of the accompanying images featuring white children, according to WGHP.
H&M has since taken the ad off its website, but the hooded top that spurred reaction remains available online.
The offending image appeared on the British version of the retailer’s online store, where it drew sharp criticism from hundreds of social media users, who objected to the tone-deaf racist connection that it seemed to suggest.
“In the year 2018, there’s no way brands/art directors can be this negligent and lack awareness,” tweeted Alex Medina, a designer who voiced outrage that such a thinly-veiled swipe at a minority group could be perpetuated by a major retailer with international reach.
Responding to the controversy, H&M spokeswoman Anna Eriksson said, “This image has now been removed from all H&M channels and we apologize to anyone this may have offended.”
Social media users were quick to point out that two other hoodies from the same manufacturer featured images of white children — one top featured images of animals and another had the slogan “Survival Expert” emblazoned across the front, according to WGHP.
Tweeting at H&M, New York Times columnist and CNN contributor Charles Blow simply asked, “have you lost your damned minds?!?!?!”
H&M is just one of a handful of multinational companies that have experienced blowback in the marketplace due to perceived insensitivity in specific marketing campaigns.
Dove, a Unilever company, found itself in hot water in October 2017 after a Facebook post on its page of a looping image that depicted a black woman removing a dark brown T-shirt to reveal a white woman underneath. The company apologized, saying it “missed the mark” with the ad.
Food manufacturer Kellogg’s also found itself under fire and was prompted to change the art on one of its cereal boxes after accusations of racism. The offending box art showed an abundance of yellow-hued Corn Pop characters, with one single, brown Corn Pop pushing a floor buffer while wearing a blue uniform.
Nivea, owned by German skincare group Beiersdorf, also responded to pressure to pull an ad with its “white is purity” slogan in April 2017 after right-wing groups latched onto the image, using it to identify with their cause.
Sources: WGHP, CNN Featured Image: Wpcpey/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: The Atlanta Voice, Robert Thivierge/Flickr