H&M is facing major backlash and losing business partners after their latest advertising image featured a young black boy wearing a hoodie with the words: “Coolest monkey in the jungle.”
The ad immediately sent shockwaves throughout social media, with numerous Twitter users marvelling how a major clothing manufacturer with an international presence could be so tone deaf when it came to issues of race.
The picture, which was featured on the United Kingdom H&M website on Monday, was pulled later in the day after harsh criticism online.
Toronto native The Weeknd tweeted he was “shocked and embarrassed” and “deeply offended” and would no longer work with the clothing brand after seeing the image.
At time of publication, the hoodie is still for sale, and other versions of it still feature pictures with Caucasian children.
U.K. Labour Party lawmaker Kate Osamor tweeted that she was “totally shocked, dismayed to say the very least” by the image and asked H&M “Do you think this imagery is an appropriate representation of a young black boy?”
The company apologized for “offending people” with the image, and said they will be reviewing internal policies.
“We sincerely apologize for offending people with this image of a printed hooded top,” the statement read, according to USA Today. “The image has been removed from all online channels and the product will not be for sale in the United States. We believe in diversity and inclusion in all that we do and will be reviewing all our internal policies accordingly to avoid any future issues.”
The Weeknd first announced in November 2016 that he would be handpicking items for a spring 2017 clothing line bearing his name. He later released a fall line with clothing including jackets, sweatshirts and hoodies.
*with a file from ET Canada and the Associated Press