If you’re a keen Social Media user, it has undoubtedly not escaped your eye that H&M are in the spotlight recently – not, however for any of the right reasons. It caught Twitter’s attention that retail giant may have just made a big marketing slip-up that brushed racism – a prevalent modern day issue even now.
The acclaimed poor product placement caught the eyes of many admist Social Media this week and the brand backlash followed imminently after, many contending they will never shop there again, branding the company as racist and disgusting. Celebrities have even jumped aboard and had their say on the brand and its slip-up, The Weeknd has vowed to cut all ties with the company and Manchester United footballer Romelu Lukakushared has gone as far as to create his own version of the hoodie and how he believes it should have been put out to the public.
This kind of backlash, as I never stop saying; is so damaging to a company and its long-sighted reputation. Although apologizing and pulling the hoodie from sales, H&M are undoubtedly to expect a decline in sales and a loss of recurring customers; their name is everywhere and has been for several days. I have explored the question: is all publicity good publicity? in a blog post a few months back, but I think in this case I can safely say that it could not have been an intentional stunt from H&M, when one’s name is tarred in the press, as H&M’s have been – it can be assumed that nothing good would ever come of it.
It cannot be denied that this issue has prominently caught my eye, but the most interesting point of interest to me is: is this racism? Or is it only racist to assume so? I can certainly sympathize with those who are unhappy with H&M and their product placement, and understand their points of view. However what I see is a little boy wearing a hoodie, not much else – it is a common term to call a child a ‘cheeky monkey’ and to me, I do not see anything above this. Would I call it racist to think otherwise? No, there are historical connotations that can be tied together for those who hold the view that this is prejudice product placement and I can understand those who would raise them in relation. However, if the issue was not raised I myself would not have drawn the connection nor seen for any reason to raise it as so. Was this an intentional act by H&M? I would think absolutely not, racism is unspeakable in this day and age so I find it hard to believe a company would advocate it so, in relation to my question earlier: is all publicity good publicity? I stand by my view and could not personally name this as a purposeful publicity stunt. It would be simply too unforgiving, not to mention downright wrong – society has no place for such behaviors anymore.
Social media is in ultimate divide and many would agree with my view, whereas many would disagree. One thing I think we can all agree on however, is that H&M has some serious work to do in rebuilding their brand image and winning back affections from consumers. If they do not, the brand and its future could be in serious jeopardy.