The furore over the H&M "racist hoodie advert" escalated to new heights over the weekend.
'It does damage the reputation of H&M' –Groovin Nchabeleng, brand strategist
HuffPost spoke to brand strategist Groovin Nchabeleng, who said the ad "has damaged the reputation of H&M", and that the rise of social media has contributed to the wider discourse on racism.
"They tried by all means to push the creative boundaries, but in this instance they missed it. With the invention of social media, it has made it easier for consumers to actually voice their opinions and react immediately, while before ads [could] be withdrawn without the public [knowing about them]."
Nchabeleng highlighted various ways in which H&M could bounce back from this crisis:
- Remove the advert;
- From a social responsibility point of view, it must think of what it can do to reach out to that particular market;
- Reach out to various channels to make sure public confidence is restored.
"There are various departments in advertising, but I am not sure what process is followed –– and the whole ad was not done by an expert," Nchabeleng said.
The incident has seen H&M issue an apology on their South African website, which reads:
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has since vowed to write to the International Chamber of Commerce over this "racist advert".
The party issued a statement on Monday in which it said: "The DA is in the belief that H&M's racist advert is in violation of the ICC's marketing guidelines. We therefore request that the ICC, as the foremost retail authority, fully investigate this incident and institute appropriate sanctions once an investigation has been completed."
"The DA will also write to H&M South Africa to express our deep concern over this tasteless advert, which evokes painful sentiments among black South Africans, as well as the black community abroad."
The DA also criticised the actions of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), saying it should find more constructive ways to address racism than the mob vandalism which the EFF instigated at H&M stores over the weekend.
"The EFF's method to fight racism crosses into a criminal act, and that should be strongly condemned. The DA calls on the EFF leadership to find more constructive and appropriate means to fight the scourge of racism that is still very present in our society."
The EFF attacks on H&M stores in Sandton prompted the retailer to temporarily close all its outlets nationwide.