Over the past few week s social media has gone through several different battles with well-known brands such as H&M for their advertising displayed on their U.K. fashion site displaying a young black child in a sweatshirt that stated: Coolest monkey in the jungle. Unless you were born two minutes ago, everyone is aware that monkey is a racial slur used against black people to say they are not human and are just slightly advanced primates. After viewing this advertisement, social media went into an uproar, stating that they needed to have more black individuals on staff to ensure that these type of situations don’t occur again. The outrage even spilled offline into the streets of South Africa resulting in the destruction of one H&M store and the closing of several surrounding stores. People had the right to be angry at the false image that was being projected about black people however their outrage has come at a cost to us. Only a few weeks after this incident another brand decided to use the same tactics. Wycon, an Italian beauty brand faced criticism for using the n-word in a nail polish ad calling the polish, “thick as a n*****.”
While some were offended, many have caught on to this possible new marketing game.
Whenever we see brands participate in racially insensitive behaviors, they expect to see the backlash from the black community not in the sense of wanting to do better but for free promotion. Attacking brands and telling them to do better while still spending your money with them is not telling them you want better from then but instead insisting on letting them slide time and time again for blatant racism. Munroe Bergdorf, a transgender Model and activist expressed her sentiments on Twitter about these “mistake campaigns.”
In these campaigns, the advertisers create and use objectifying material to offend their audience sparking an outrage. This has become a prominent thing within black twitter whenever something offensive happens they are the first ones to comment. This has come in handy on multiple occasions, however, these friendly tactics have come back to haunt us. Brands analyze how their ads are interpreted by consumers and how and when they are engaged. These brands know exactly what they are doing and they could care less about our emotions as long as we are walking billboards for their products. The western world is extremely racist and does not care about our feelings about racially charged statements or images that they display as long as they have our attention. A prime example of these would be the H&M ad. The shirt was on display for weeks around media outlets even though the shirt was pulled off the website; this didn’t stop the brand from capitalizing off this incident by having a convenient sale.
As long people continue to participate in the “mistake campaign” narrative, brands will continue to capitalize on the false outrage brought on by their advertisements. Continuing supporting these brands while screaming at them to do better is like telling a wall to move out of your way. Our dollar is our voice so as long as we finance them they will continue. The solution is simple and we have to choose