Canadian pop singer The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) says he is cutting his ties with H&M over the fast fashion retailer’s racist ad which has sparked international outrage.
The Toronto-born rhythm and blues performer who twice teamed up with H&M and performed at its Spring 2017 fashion show, said he was “deeply offended” by the picture in the ad of a Black boy wearing a green hooded sweatshirt emblazoned with the words “Coolest monkey in the jungle.”
The word “monkey” has often been used as a racial slur.
The Weeknd noted online that he was “shocked” by the ad which prompted him to end his relationship with H&M, the world’s second-largest clothing group.
NBA star LeBron James, rapper Diddy and other artists are also reported to have also responded with outrage to the image. James posted an image showing the model wearing a crown while Diddy posted an image with a sweatshirt with the words “Coolest king in the world.”
A spokesperson for the Montreal-based Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRAAR) said the ad “reinforces racist stereotypes and constitutes a form of racial slur against black people.”
CRAAR called on H&M to reach out to the black communities in cities it which it has stores in order “to promote more respectful representation, business practices and inclusion among its staff.”
It urged the Swedish-based company to be more aware of the images its uses in ads to avoid offending minority groups.
H&M has removed the racist image from its website and issued the following statement: “We sincerely apologize for offending people with this image of a printed hooded top. 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.”
Last year several cases of racist advertising were reported.
In October, Dove, owned by Unilever, apologized for a social media post that the company said “missed the mark” representing black women.
Introduced with the line “Ready for a Dove Shower?” the post showed an image of a black woman removing a dark brown t-shirt to reveal a white woman.
Also in October, after receiving a complaint, Kellogg changed the art on its Corn Pops cereal box which showed dozens of yellow-hued Corn Pop characters, except for the lone brown Corn Pop in a blue uniform pushing a floor buffer.
In April, Nivea, part of the German skincare group Beiersdort (BDRFF) pulled an ad with the slogan “white is purity” after it was shared by right wing groups.
“We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post,” the company said in a statement. “Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea.”