Retail giant H&M has been forced to apologise after it used a black child to model a hoodie with the slogan “Coolest monkey in the jungle”.
Social media users branded the advert “racist” and “unacceptable”, prompting the high street chain to remove the image from its online collection and replace it with a photo of the jumper.
“What universe do you live in that makes it okay to flaunt your racist ways in such an epic portion,” one user, Alexandra Foucard, wrote on Twitter, calling for people to boycott the shop.
“I demand you remove this ad. This child is precious and should be treated as such!”
Another user wrote: “This is racist and insensitive. This beautiful boy doesn’t even know what H&M is making out of him. A whole team shooting and no one saw what’s wrong with this.”
A third said it was “unacceptable”, adding: “H&M is now on my list of places I am never shopping again”.
Others took the view that H&M didn’t intend to offend with the image, but that the company “should have realised” it may cause offence, with one person suggesting it highlighted the lack of non-white executives.
“I totally understand the racist connotations around the word ‘monkey’ but, seriously, I don’t *think* that was their intention at all,” wrote one Twitter user. “However, in this day and age, surely someone at H&M should’ve realised this may offend someone, somewhere?”
Another wrote: “This is why companies need more non-white diverse executives to avoid these online disasters and accusations of ‘racist’ advertising.”
A spokesperson for H&M told The Independent the image had been removed, adding: “We apologise to anyone this may have offended.”
It comes just months after the retailer removed a hoodie bearing the words “Dogfight in Random Alley” from its stores after animal rights organisation Peta complained that it sent a “dangerous” message.
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