Here’s the Thing…

By Donna Latson Gittens


From my 20 years in advertising, I have a pretty good idea of how creative ideas evolve from their initial spark to fruition. Ideas get passed around and typically reviewed across multiple layers of decision-makers – the larger the organization, the more the vetting.

So, I’m totally blown away as to how a global fashion brand, H&M, could show a young black male model wearing a hoodie that reads, “COOLEST MONKEY IN THE JUNGLE.” (Yes, it was actually written in all caps across the chest.)

Sure, H&M is based in Sweden, where issues of race differ from other countries, but c’mon!

Looks like I’m not alone. New York Times columnist Charles Blow tweeted out the obvious question, “Have you lost your damned minds?!?!?!”

The Weeknd, a singer/songwriter who had been collaborating with H&M on a fashion line, immediately severed all ties with the company.

NBA star LeBron James ripped into H&M in both words and visuals, showing a doctored image of the ad with the youngster wearing a crown on his head and over the offending words on his chest.

H&M did quickly apologize for the snafu, and announced that the hoodie wouldn’t be sold in the U.S.  Really? Just in the U.S.?  My question is, why not everywhere?


The only monkeys here, as far as I can tell, are the ones who thought this was a great idea.


Donna Latson Gittens is Founder and CEO of MORE Advertising.