Why H&M's apology doesn't wash
Leading black advertising professionals say the H&M debacle shows that sensitivity to black issues isn’t something that can be taught, and that diversity is critical for brands that want to connect with consumers
Leading SA advertising practitioners say many brands remain insensitive to racial issues and there is a lack of understanding of the "lived" experience of black people. This comes after global clothing retailer H&M posted an online promotional image of a black child wearing a hoodie with the words "Coolest monkey in the jungle". The image has led to international outrage. Locally, supporters of Julius Malema’s EFF stormed H&M outlets in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, trashing the stores in protest. The Swedish retailer has since apologised but is fighting a rearguard campaign to salvage its reputation. Thabang Skwambane, head of the FCB Johannesburg ad agency, cautions brands not to assume or accept references from inappropriate sources to guide their thinking and work. "If you are not black you do not know what the black experience of the world is." Brands need to employ more black people at all levels who can inform this ethos and thinking, and above all need to listen to "...