Outrage sells, H&M just cashed out at the expense of the Black community as have many other white owned retailers recently. It almost seems that in the last two years or so, that one of the biggest marketing strategies employed by white owned businesses, is to outrage the Black community.
Companies have seemed to notice the trend and have latched on to it unashamedly.
Release offensive merchandise or ad campaign –> Spark Black outrage –> Viral free promo for company –> Company pulls stock and apologizes, offers free merchandise and deep discounts —> Company then sells the offensive material to their intended audience through private channels (of course they won’t destroy all that inventory at a loss) —> Company rakes up more money than it could have ever by just selling the offensive —> Our people are divided, who is with the offensive company, who is against them.
Eventually, a new distraction or controversy overshadows the outrage, people forget what they were upset about and go back to buying the brand. This marketing ploy has been used time and time again, yet our people still buy into it every time.
I planned to stay out of this debate as I generally do because to write about them helps with the viral promo campaign. Just as I don’t share fight videos and other things that are a detriment to our community, I don’t want to help sell the offensive merchandise to the companies intended audience either. The people they make these offensive items for love to see us outraged, the run to get their hands on this merchandise while it’s hot.
However, this particular situation took such a turn that it became hard to stay silent. H&M is a Swedish company, some will argue that they weren’t aware of how the American market would react to seeing the hoodie. The shirt wasn’t released in the U.S., we weren’t intended to see it. In fact, the hoodie that went viral, was for a U.K. ad campaign. How any company can imagine that merchandise that can be deemed as offensive wouldn’t spread in the internet age is beyond me. That leads me to think that they were fully aware of what they were doing.
Many American born Blacks were immediately outraged not just at the hoodie the little Black boy wore bearing the words “coolest monkey in the jungle”, but also the fact that the white boy’s shirt read something like “Safari expert”. It was another ad campaign depicting a Black child as an animal and a white child as the animal trainer/expert. There was subliminal and in your face offensiveness there, to deny it adds to the offense.
I saw the campaign, shook my head and went about my day until I saw the mother of the child have her say. The mother of the child posted pics of her with the young model and admonished us (Black people) for being upset. She said she had no problem with what H&M picked for her son to wear, in fact she accuses us of crying “wolf”. Other European mother have spoken up saying that it is common to call their kids “cheeky monkey’s” and that as Americans, we are taking it out of context because of what the imagery elicits from our history. American history is a part of world history however. No continent nor country, has been untouched by colonization and slavery at some point.
I planned to ignore this whole thing until one of my Facebook friends expressed this morning, that they were having a hard time figuring out where to direct his outrage. He wasn’t sure if he was more upset with H&M, the boy’s mother or the Black people who were ready to let the situation slide. It was then I could no longer bite my tongue. I commented that the person I was most upset with in this situation was Diddy. Yep, I said it, Diddy.
When the social media outrage was sparked, it’s said that Diddy tried to “save” the young man by offering him one-million-dollar modeling contract. Diddy was just one of the mainstream, Black celebrities who spoke out about the imagery the ad depicted. It absolutely pissed me off that Diddy would offer this young boy (not legally old enough to agree or sign contract, so ask him mother) a contract for a million of dollars before hearing what the mom, Terry Mango, had to say.
At this point, she has purposely chosen to lash out at the very people who wanted to protect her son, that includes Diddy. If she receives this contract (on behalf of her son), she just cashed out majorly. Rumor is that the young lad was paid very handsomely to be in the initial ad, a $1 million contract on top of that, wouldn’t hurt, huh mom. If Diddy signs the boy, it’s a slap in his and the face of each of us who were offended and outraged by the blatant racist undertones of the H&M ad.
The Weekend, who launched his clothing line with H&M just last year, has cut ties with the brand saying, “Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo,” on Twitter. “I’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore.” Good for him.
I don’t let my outrage show when I see these ads, I’ve realized that it’s marketing and they will continue to release the same types of ads they’ve been doing. Social media just makes it more noticeable. This ad won’t keep me from shopping at H&M, I’ve never been inside one to begin with. I rarely have to boycott these offensive brands, I don’t patronize them. What the community needs to ask itself, is why does it flock to these international chains and brands owned and represented by people who look nothing like you?
What will it take to make you wake up, support your own and their brands. If the money circulated in our community the way we’re quick to hand it out, we’d control the image of us the world sees. Stop with the outrage and support your own, we wouldn’t have such a big problem with buying from who degrades us.