Why H&M’s Apology Isn’t Enough - My FrontPager

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Why H&M’s Apology Isn’t Enough

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Yesterday, H&M apologized for their using a racist analogy in the marketing of one of their apparels in the UK. Beyond what is obviously damage control, how much of that should be taken or accepted when the real question is yet to be answered.

How does a company of their international appeal and ambition make such a costly mistake in the first place?

H&M rightly caused outright outrage when the news that their UK website carries a young black boy wearing a hoodie with the caption: “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” surfaced on the internet.

One of the first to bring it to the world’s view was New York Times Columnist Charles M. Blow, who asked: “@hm, have you lost your damned minds?” on twitter.

The company was quick to offer an apology: “We sincerely apologize for offending people with this image of a printed hooded top. The image has been removed from all online channels and the products will not be for sale in the United States.”

Yet a lot of questions remained unanswered, like: How and who in the company accented to the use of the image, or the cultural integration in the company. Accepted, the company is a Swedish one, and they have a different history when it comes to race, compared to the UK or the US, but still, why use a black boy for the ad?

The racist analogy inherent in the image has provoked Weeknd – who has collaborated with the company to speak out. He tweeted his shock and embarrassment and has promised not to work with the company again.

Whether it was a mistake or not, Global Brands can no longer afford to make mistakes. And when they do, they should not expect to go scot free after a tame apology – they should expect repercussions. 

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