Cultural Jam: Neglection of Racism in Advertising
The Original Ad
During early 2018 I remembered reading an online article about the backlash the clothing line H and M was receiving due to their release of an online ad in Britain. At first glance the ad might seem quite innocent to the viewer as you have two young boys one black and one white both wearing hoodies of different colour. The green hoodie which the black boy wears then says “coolest monkey in the jungle” and the orange hoodie that the white boy wears then says “mangrove jungle official survival expert junior tour guide. To the historical and culturally unaware, both of these statements would hold little to no meaning as often times you will see white parents call their child a “cheeky monkey” or “my little monkey”. But as a person who understood the historical hardships which people of coloured had to endure, I found it mind blowing that marketing team of a multi million clothing company would be so negligent of the negative connotation that comes with the word monkey when associated with black people. It is no secret that racism has been a multigenerational problem that us as a society has had to face for a long period of time. And while it could be argued that is a simple case of racial negligence and that the advertisement team of H and M had no intentions of creating a racist ad, we as a society has progressed too much to allow mistakes like this to continue to happen. In fact just a year ago dove made a similar advertisement mistake as they showed a black women transform into a white women after using dove lotion. This advertisement then created the implication that “white skin” is superior to “black skin” as skin is usually smoother and more aesthetically pleasing after you apply lotion. The fact that two multi million dollar companies would make identical mistakes in such a short period of time is simply unacceptable and it is up to us as a society recognize the racism within the marketing field.
The Altered Cultural Jam
In the reconstruction of the ad the first and obvious change that I implement was to change out the words “coolest monkey in the jungle” into “crocodile boy” as well as inserting an animated picture of a crocodile onto the green hoodie. The reason which I decided to add a crocodile is because of the symbolic meaning that comes with animal crocodile. A crocodile is a strong and powerful animal who is positioned extremely high in the food chain. This then is extremely similar to a tiger who also symbolically represent power and strength as often times people consider a tiger the king of the jungle. The main purpose behind assigning both kids an animal isn’t because black people are like crocodiles or that white people are like tigers but instead it is to realize that both animals are extremely powerful creatures who should both be respected equally. This is then equivalent to the core issues of racism as the solution to racism is to realize that people of all colours should be treated equally and with respect. The second change that I implemented was changing the background colours to green on the right and blue to the left as the blue represents water and the green represents grass. Now this decision can be somewhat controversial as the main issue of racism is finding equality between all people and not creating segregation. But I believe that it is important to recognize that people are different and people of different race grow up in different cultural background. Instead of ignoring the culture discrepancy we should embrace each others cultural differences and that is why I decided to give different background colours for each kid. Now the last change that I made was that I decided to add the words “leaders of the jungle” in the black bold letters in the middle of the ad. Children are the future leaders of our generation and I personally believe it is important to teach the harms of racism to our next generation so hopefully the future generation can completely abolish racism.
Association, Press. “H&M Apologises over Image of Black Child in ‘Monkey’ Hoodie.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 Jan. 2018, www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/jan/08/h-and-m-apologises-over-image-of-black-child-in-monkey-hoodie.
“H&M Apologizes for Showing Black Child Wearing a ‘Monkey in the Jungle’ Sweatshirt.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 8 Jan. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/01/08/hm-apologizes-for-showing-black-child-wearing-a-monkey-in-the-jungle-sweatshirt/?utm_term=.31c596cb69f6.
Slawson, Nicola. “Dove Apologises for Ad Showing Black Woman Turning into White One.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 Oct. 2017, www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/08/dove-apologises-for-ad-showing-black-woman-turning-into-white-one.