H&M was forced to apologize Monday for using a black child to model a sweatshirt with a “coolest monkey in the jungle” slogan.
— H&M (@hm) January 9, 2018
The company removed the offending ad from its website after hundreds of social media users accused it of being racist. It continues to sell the hooded top online.
“This image has now been removed from all H&M channels and we apologize to anyone this may have offended,” said H&M spokeswoman Anna Eriksson.
Social media users pointed out that two other tops from the same line, one that said “survival expert” and one with images of animals, were modeled by white children.
This is disgusting & degrading putting this little boy in a hoodie that says coolest monkey in the jungle! Knowing the history of people associating black people with monkeys! Who approved this? @hm @hm @hm pic.twitter.com/W4boZFx4Fs
— gaby💋 (@loveegaby_) January 7, 2018
We are absolutely appalled by this racist advertisement attributed to @HM which strips the child in the green of basic human dignity. While we note the apology as necessary we cannot accept that it's sufficient based on the amount of damage it has caused. cc @HMsouthafrica pic.twitter.com/TqSRn164xJ
— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) January 9, 2018
Really @hm I just want to know why the black boy is wearing a hoodie that says “coolest monkey”, & the white boy is wearing a hoodie that says “Expert”. The Art Director behind this is trash. pic.twitter.com/2VsBc9D4Vw
— Baker (@BuzyBakerr) January 8, 2018
— Eduardo Cruz (@edcr92) January 9, 2018
Don’t be silly – Sweden is not a backward country. They are well aware of racial issues in the USA, (and in Europe for that matter), and the company has US employees. The fact that they chose a black child for that hoodie is no accident.
— Lorne Daley (@LorneDa) January 8, 2018
“In the year 2018 there’s no way brands/art directors can be this negligent and lack awareness…. We have to do better,” designer Alex Medina said on Twitter, one of many who voiced their outrage over the advert.
However, there were people who felt there was no cause for alarm and the undertone of the campaign was for a loving cause, more than that of race
This is a ludicrous statement. If they had a white child model this, then your ultra liberal view wouldn’t be able to seek out an issue. It’s ridiculous that this became an issue, it’s not racism its a kid wearing a hoodie. It’s your views that make it offensive not H ‘n’ M.
— Ollie Perry (@ODPerry99) January 8, 2018
can’t a kid just where the hoodie without people MAKING it into a bad scenario? @hm isn’t racist and neither is the person who did this. they picked a little kid to model a hoodie and you people turn the message of it bad/racist. pic.twitter.com/CQQVzmhwQH
— max l (@m6xll) January 8, 2018
I feel like ppl are overreacting to that #HM hoodie. I see kids clothing all the time that say things like mommy’s little monkey, little lion, little bear etc. So if you’re black, you can’t get anything that says monkey on it for your child?
— Ty (@_Tyrece) January 8, 2018
— Mr. Santos rly likes @Guaje7Villa (@NYCitizen07) January 8, 2018
— Wine by the HalfPint (@realordinarylad) January 8, 2018
Completely agree with @IamSairaKhan re the @hm hoodie. It’s ridiculous. Of course they haven’t done it on purpose. Parents call their kids monkeys. Cheeky monkeys. People are too sensitive #LooseWomen
— Katie (@KatieLishy) January 9, 2018
H&M is not the first company to find itself under fire over racist advertising.
Dove, owned by Unilever, was forced to apologize in October for a social media post that the company said “missed the mark” representing black women.
Introduced with the line “Ready for a Dove Shower?” the post showed a looping image of a black woman removing a dark brown t-shirt to reveal a white woman.
Also in October, Kellogg changed the art on its Corn Pops cereal box after a consumer complained it was racist. The art showed dozens of yellow-hued Corn Pop characters, except for the lone brown Corn Pop in a blue uniform pushing a floor buffer.
Nivea, part of German skincare group Beiersdorf, pulled an ad with a slogan “white is purity” in April, after it was shared by right wing groups.
Additional reporting from CNN Money