The Swedish-owned retail brand H&M (Hennes and Mauritz) has landed in hot water and faces charges of racism.  This after displaying a young black child in a hoody that read: “Coolest monkey in the jungle”.

The company has made a public apology and removed the offensive advert. Clearly, there was a lack a comprehensive understanding of the South African context and of our history.  Or perhaps its a case of a Swedish brand that is still grappling with geographic interpretations and nuances of their brand in a developing country?

Some social observers and critics are asking how on earth the advert passed approvals in an entire marketing department without being flagged as racist.

702 Talk show host Mandy Wiener talked to Media Specialist and CEO of Ditshego Media, Tebogo Ditshego, who says the “the lack of training and interaction of people with different demographics is problematic and it demonstrates the lack of transformation occurring globally.”

H&M social media response

So their marketing team may have fluffed it, but what H&M did right was to respond swiftly on their social media channels.  They not only made a public apology and removed the advert, but they removed the clothing item from their product offering.  H&M also undertook to investigate why this slipped through the net, to mitigate this type of advertising faux pax from happening again.

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