New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow drew attention to the image Sunday night when he tweeted at H&M, "Have you lost your damned minds?!?!?!"
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 8, 2018
Many consumers reacted to the photo on social media, describing it as tasteless or worse, offensive. Others urged a boycott of the company for posting a photo of a black boy modeling a hoodie with the term "monkey," which has been used as a slur against Africans or people of African descent.
— Marqus 🦁🇬🇭 (@marqEmarq) January 8, 2018
UK Labor Party lawmaker Kate Osamor tweeted that she was "totally shocked, dismayed to say the very least" by the image. "Do you think this imagery is an appropriate representation of a young black boy?" she added, addressing the retailer.
— Alexandra Foucard (@AFoucard) January 8, 2018
Another Twitter user pointed out that an orange sweatshirt also for sale on the website and emblazoned with the words "Mangrove Jungle Survival Expert" was worn by a white model.
"The entire narrative is a fail for 2018," the Twitter user said.
— paisley (@alwayspaisley) January 8, 2018
"We sincerely apologize for this image," H&M's Stockholm headquarters said in a Monday morning email sent to CBS MoneyWatch. "It has been now removed from all online channels and the product will not be for sale in the US. We believe in diversity and inclusion in all that we do, and will be reviewing our internal routines."
However, many have claimed that the "empty" apology came too late.
As of Monday morning, the clothing giant's website still features the hoodie, but without anyone wearing it.
"They removed the picture but are still selling the item. THAT MAKES IS WORSE," one customer wrote Monday on H&M's Facebook page. "Now they're trying to COVER IT UP. They should be ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES."
— Jean-Marc Appolon 🐊 (@Jnmarc10) January 8, 2018
Models for Diversity, a British organization that campaigns for more diversity in models, was one of the many groups slamming H&M publicly.
"@hm And then H&M UK got the bright idea to feature a black boy model with 'Coolest Monkey in the Jungle' hoodie on its website. How on earth can this be? SHAME ON YOU!" the organization tweeted.
This is not the first time that a major company has been skewered for using racist or insensitive advertising. A few months ago, Dove received major backlash after posting an ad on its Facebook page showing a black woman taking off her brown shirt to reveal a white woman.