H&M, Hennes & Mauritz, is a global retailing company, founded in Sweden that sells clothes, shoes, jewelry and other accessories for both men, women and kids.
On January 7, 2018, a post began floating around on the internet. It was a screenshot of a hoodie for sale. Printed on the hoodie was “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” and a young black boy was wearing it. There has been a huge social media uproar since then and the people are talking. Not surprisingly though, the comments are mixed with different opinions. Based on my observations alone, a majority of the black commenters are upset, the white commenters are either forgiving or think the hoodie is cute, and then the rest is in between. Of course, in the mix of all the comments are trolls from all sides that keep adding fire to the already steaming topic. Overall though, I believe the hoodie and the model placement was not thought through. Some however, may think thats exactly what they meant to do.
H&M’s first response was a generic one in their Instagram comments stating: “We sincerely apologize for offending people with an image of a printed hooded top. The image has been removed from all online channels. We believe in diversity & inclusion in all that we do and will be reviewing our internal policies accordingly.” As a person with a degree concentrating in public relations, I’d definitely say that their response missed the mark; main reason being that people were not upset about “a printed hooded top” but the content of the print and the model affiliated with it.
H&M then issued a more public response on their social media accounts:
This apology was more specific and less insensitive which was appreciated but for some the damage was already done.
Photo credits: thedailybeast
Public responses to issues that can potentially cause a company to lose their sponsorships, consumers and brand image need to be authentic, personal and specific. They need to portray that they understand where the issue lies and then come up with a solution that is shared with their stakeholders. Canadian singer and songwriter, The Weeknd, recently stated that he would no longer be working with H&M due to this and several others may be following suit. I guess we will see.