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Racist advertisement draws backlash

By Diasha Henley
On January 22, 2018

Racist advertising? A coincidence? Poor marketing and advertising practices? What was the goal?

You have to be under a rock if you haven’t heard of the recent scandal involving H&M’s. The company listed a jacket on its website stating “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” on a young black boy. Of course this left many H&M shoppers outraged. Jashonda Scott, H&M shopper, said “H&M definitely dropped the ball with the ad. I will not be supporting a company who doesn’t care for all races.”

Many questioned the authenticity of the ad due to its offensiveness. “When I first read about this I assumed the article was fake because of the offensive nature. Although I haven’t read much about the story, I would be shocked to learn that a company like H&M would deliberately print something this offensive, said Lucas Hopkins, marketing faculty and Assistant Department Chair at FSU’S College of Business.

Although many were upset over the ad Terry Mango, of Stockholm, Sweden says “get over it.” The mom of the young child did not support the backlash over the ad. She was at the shoot when the ad was taken and didn’t see anything wrong with it. She didn’t see anything wrong with the jacket or the advertisement.

Despite Mango’s views the company issued an apology. H&M’s public apology was posted on its website stating, “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.”

This is becoming a reoccurring theme of big companies making poor judgment in their marketing or advertising efforts.

Dove made an advertisement in 2017 where women of different ethnicities changed shirts. This advertisement also had a huge uproar of enraged customers who thought the advertisement came off as racist to some.

Like H&M, Dove endured a lot of backfire from the ad.

Dove was forced to issue an apology saying, “An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused.”

Whether it was unintentional or a coincidence H&M definitely dropped the ball on its marketing and advertising practices. Marketing professional Michael Brady said, “Marketing is all about great products and services.  And by that I mean products/services that solve consumers’ needs and wants and that give them great value for their money.  

“When customers are spending their money with a company, the company should be aware of how their advertising efforts could impact their customers,” he added.

“Marketing has changed over the years and it is now possible to target products to individual consumers through mobile and social media channels in a way that was not possible before.  This “one-to-one” marketing builds on my earlier comment about creating products that solve consumer needs and want,” Brady said.

Although the young boy had to endure this scandal the H&M model has signed a $1 million contract with his clothing company Sean John. His lemons are definitely turning into a nice cup of lemonade.


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