Controversial H&M ad should not never happened

Sierra Perales,

H&M starts 2018 on the wrong foot

Mainstream products like Nivea, Pepsi and Dove are just a few companies who released controversial ads in 2017.

These companies all apologized and expressed their regrets over their advertisements by explaining that diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values, but the apologies are not enough: they have let something so big slip through the cracks and this is not okay.

Earlier this month, H&M, a popular Swedish clothing company and the second largest global clothing retailer, joined alongside Nivea, Pepsi and Dove when they featured an ad with a young black model wearing a sweatshirt with “coolest monkey in the jungle” printed on it. Since the advertisement was posted on Jan. 8 on H&M’s United Kingdom website, the company has been under fire, receiving reactions from all over the world.

The ad went viral over all social media, and soon enough caught the attention of celebrity partners such as G-Eazy and The Weeknd, who cut ties with H&M entirely. G-Eazy, an American rapper and record producer from Oakland, publicly expressed his disappointment with the actions of H&M with a post on Instagram.

“Whether an oblivious oversight or not, it’s truly sad and disturbing that in 2018, something so racially and culturally insensitive could pass by the eyes of so many (stylist, photographer, creative and marketing teams) and be deemed acceptable,” G-Eazy’s post read.

The heated reactions from the people got back to H&M quickly, and the advertisement was pulled the same day that it was released, and the sweatshirt would no longer be sold. The company released an apology statement that had been featured on the homepage of the website.

“Our position is simple – We have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry. We strongly believe that racism and bias in any shape or form, deliberate or accidental, are unacceptable and not in line with our values,” said H&M.

The H&M advertisement created uproar worldwide and members of The Economic Freedom Fighters, a South African Revolutionary socialist political party ransacked about six South African H&M retailers on Jan 13, according to multiple AP reports.

So now, the real question is, how do these large companies keep “missing the mark” while we are living in an era full of empowerment and progression. With trending movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and Time’s Up being so important, there is just no excuse.

Back in 2013, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin, the #BlackLivesMatter movement began. People everywhere began protesting for justice.

Tarana Burke founded #MeToo in 2006 and began the movement to build awareness for women who were survivors of sexual violence. Recently, Alyssa Milano reignited the movement by tweeting “Me Too” creating an outpour of women who also decided to share their stories.

Shortly after, the Time’s Up movement started, empowering all underrepresented women who have faced injustice and inequality in the workplace.

While we are able to witness multiple powerful movements happening right before our eyes, we are also witnessing the alt-right flourishing under the leadership of our extremely racist president and controversial ads only allow them to continue to express their negative beliefs.

After Nivea released an ad that read “White is Purity,” alt-right supporters chimed in, saying, “We enthusiastically support this new direction your company is taking. I’m glad we can all agree that #WhiteIsPurity.”

Safe to say, these ads give leeway for the progressive times to take two steps backward and something needs to be done within companies to make sure that controversial ads will no longer be released.

It needs to stop now.