H&M are profiting from black outrage?


On an episode of The Russel Brand Show there was a sudden appearance of professional bigot Katie Hopkins. Don’t know who she is? Well here’s her take on the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014:

Fair to say she’s a racist right? Cool. Anyway, in the midst of a back and forth between Brand and Hopkins, Hopkins refers to Brand’s co-hosts (and producers) as ‘monkey’s‘ to which (black) poet/contributor Mr Gee naturally takes offence. This is followed by (remember PROFESSIONAL BIGOT) Katie Hopkins becoming clearly flustered at the accusation that her remark was intended as racial.

So, I ask you, if someone who is racist for a living, knows not to call a black person a monkey, how then does a MULTI-NATIONAL clothing company with 4,500 stores, in 62 countries and 132,000 employees somehow shoot a campaign, edit a campaign, send the campaign through all the appropriate channels and still have a picture of a black boy in a hoody being called a monkey?

They don’t. It’s very simple, H&M have monetised black outrage. Basically: You have something you need to promote, make it offensive, black folks will tweet it into oblivion, you ‘sincerely’ apologise = free promotion.

But firstly, a black person walking around wearing a hoody with the word ‘monkey’ on it isn’t . It’s the optics. Especially:





H&M is worth an estimated £18 billion and you can guarantee that the more senior parts of the company were 1. aware of the campaign and 2. the backlash it was cause.

In  September 2016 Colin Kaepernick had the best-selling NFL jersey, despite not being on a team. This was due to his infamous protest. Racists bought his jersey to burn it (and posted videos of themselves doing so) and anti-racists bought them in support. In 2017 coffee machine maker Keurig removed themselves as sponsors of political commentator Sean Hannity’s show over his comments defending a paedophile sentaor. This then resulted in Hannity’s supporters smashing up their Keurig coffee makers and some even buying coffee makers to smash them.

Outrage is a booming business and more and more online activists are expressing their sociopolitical opinions with their wallets. So it’s certainly not a stretch to explore the idea of this racist campaign being ‘accidentally on purpose’.


But let’s say that H&M didn’t have some dastardly plan to empower the racists to buy monkey hoody’s for their children. There’s certainly good business sense in enraging the black community. If we’ve learned anything from the bi-monthly outrage caused by x company; it’s that black outrage goes viral.
No other group can raise awareness of a cause faster the black community. And on one hand this is a good thing; important causes and injustices can become headline news and force multinational cooperations to respond and effect change. On the other hand it’s not always a good thing. Like that ‘racist‘ Dove ad, you know, the one that wasn’t actually racist. Twitter kicked up a storm over a 3 second clip, but if they actually viewed the full length clip they would’ve seen it was about as racist as Michael Jackson’s ‘Black Or White’ video. See black outrage is good at raising awareness, it’s just that this time the cause is H&M. Good or bad the name hasn’t been out of the headlines all week. And this was a tiny campaign. Now imagine what happens when they ‘apologise’ with a sale?

While there are large parts of Twitter that do believe in using the platform to right wrongs; there’s also a part of Twitter that simply posts for likes and retweets. Until we arrive at a point where the tweets, lead to retweets and retweets lead to memes, the hashtags goes viral and all the company has to do is tweet an apology and they’ve saved themselves millions in advertising.

Honestly even wanting an apology is weird. Maybe there’s some satisfaction in figuratively having this multinational cooperation grovel; but really that cooperation would sell their grandma if it meant turning a profit.

H&M’s stock hasn’t fallen, people aren’t abandoning the brand in droves and you can guarantee they’ll still be the 2nd most profitable clothing company on the planet. So what consequences have H&M suffered?:

The Weeknd cut ties (He’s been with them since March so his clothing line has pretty much peaked already)
G-Eazy also cut ties (yeah, me neither)

Aaaaand that’s it.

They’ve issued a ‘heartfelt’ apology, and have removed the hoody but it’s very likely that a month from now this ‘boycott’ will be all but forgotten. (Remember when everyone was mad at Logan Paul?) The real test will come when H&M collaborate with another high-end label like Balmain and everyone will queuing up round the block like: