“Racism still alive, they just be concealing it.” – Kanye West (Fashion/Pop Culture/Music Icon). This statement was made on the track “Never Let Me Down” years ago. It still stands relevant today. Whether it be at any level, there is still a relevant level of racism in society and sometimes that pent up aggression takes centre stage one way or the other.
Multi-national Fashion chain H&M is the most recent example of this phenomenon. The ad campaign that they came up with instantly drove people to a frenzy. It showed a little kid of African American descent wearing a sleeved t-shirt that read “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle”. This move sent shockwaves down not only the fashion industry, but also the entire media industry.
Advertisers have been using (and abusing) the power of human emotions for way too long. Every ad campaign goes through rigorous detailing, drafts, brainstorming and dry runs before the final run even comes out. So it wouldn’t be a surprise if this was a well-planned, executed move from the fashion giant. But either way, it is on the people to ensure that during these times they raise their voice against these issues and bring down the entire system.
This was a prime example of the people revolting against the wrongdoings of a multinational brand. The people in charge of the campaign got suspended from duty. The clothing line was repealed. And the brand suffered a loss. This is essential for the people as a voice. Many actors, music moguls, sports stars and influential people from different lines of work all stepped up for what’s right and at the end of the day, we saw what the power of unity can really do.
H&M may have been the most recent controversy, but make no mistake that brands have been a part of controversy since the very beginning. Some of them have even planned their moves to fit into the thin line of controversy that gets the people talking. They always say that “negative publicity is still publicity” and this is the time that brands look out for opportunities to exploit. Recently even Pepsi came into the negative spotlight due to their brand insecurity. They tried to emulate their competitors Coca-Cola by tapping into the problems of society. But the plan backfired when the visuals drew exact parallels to the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
All in all, it is the responsibility of brands to portray and enhance the culture of fashion in a positive light and to understand the type of markets that they are trying to get a hold of. Many celebrities like P Diddy, LeBron James, King Los, G-Eazy, Snoop Dogg amongst others had lashed out at the insensitive advertising. And this only goes to show that there is strength in unity. And we can change the world when we come together.