TIME IS UP! That seems to be the new motto of 2018. The time for keeping quiet, making excuses, and giving people/organisations the benefit of the doubt is up. And if you think people are joking, just ask H&M. Their time is up!
Multinational clothing retail company, H&M, isn’t starting 2018 on the right foot. Fashion blogger, Stephanie Yeboah, shared a photo, on her Twitter, of an H&M advert that put the company in the racial hot seat. The Swedish brand is being criticised over an advert of a little black boy wearing a green hoodie that reads “coolest monkey in the jungle”. To make matters worse they had the exact same hoodie, just in a different colour on another little (white) boy that reads “jungle survivor”.
It didn’t take long for the tweet to go viral and the brand was being accused of being racial insensitive. Everyone from athletes, like Lee Broon James to politicians like Labour MP Kate Osamor spoke out about the advert. Musician, The Weeknd, ended his partnership with the brand after seeing the offensive ad.
For anyone who doesn’t understand where the offences lies? In history black people have always been referred to or being compared to, as monkeys. It started during colonial times and continues till this day. People with darker skin are viewed as ugly or less valuable compared to people with lighter complexion.
But is all this rage necessary?
The mother of the boy who modelled the sweater, went on Facebook to say all commotion was “unnecessary”. Unnecessary or not, failure to communicate appropriately with a diverse audience has always been big corporations’ short coming. And yes we get it, ‘you’re intention was not to offend, and you’re going to work on having a more diverse staff.’ In PR, the message is the most important part not the intent. So while H&M’s intention was not to be racial insensitive, the message came across that way.
H&M, are one of many brands claiming to fight for diversity in fashion. They aim to push the boundaries and be more inclusive. ATTENTION ALL BRANDS JUST BECAUSE “TRYONE” IS IN THE BOARD ROOM DOES NOT MAKE YOU THE UNITED NATIONS.
It is no longer good enough having a few people of colour or employees with different sexual orientations in the office anymore. It is about making sure your employees are culturally aware and are sensitive to cultural stereotypes. Therefore, H&M, if you are going to have branches all over the world, and are going to be selling clothes to different kinds of people. Maybe your board rooms should reflect your client base. TIMES UP H&M!