Is Racism the New Marketing Strategy?

We are just one month into 2018 and there have already been three product launches that have caused an uproar for being either discriminatory towards black people or non-inclusive of darker skin.

H & M kicked off the new year with outrage when this catalog photo was uncovered on its British website


H&M racist ad

The image shows  a black child modeling a hooded sweatshirt  “coolest monkey in the jungle.” Two other jungle-themed sweatshirts that did not mention monkeys were modeled by white children.

While some tone-deaf folks were quick to point out that children are often playfully called monkeys, the deeply racist connotation of the photograph was not lost on celebrities like The Weeknd who publicly terminated his business relationship with the company immediately after seeing the photo.

The image was also not very amusing to South Africans who demolished several H&M stores forcing the Swedish retailer to shut down its operations in South Africa due to resulting protests from the racially insensitive ad. 

Shortly after this incident, Tarte released its highly anticipated Shape Tape foundation much to the dismay of women with dark skin as the shade range indicated the collection was not curated with them in mind. 

Tired of the industry standard response of "We are working on more shades", beauty vloggers Jackie Aina & Alissa Ashley used their Youtube channels as a medium to criticize Tarte's non-inclusive shade range in this hilarious and truthful video: 

In a world that prioritizes whiteness and thinness, all women are negatively impacted by unattainable Western beauty ideals.  Tarte's foundation range is particularly damaging to black women as its implicit message to us is: 


"You are not beautiful", "Your dollars don't matter" 


On the heels of Tarte's foundation launch debacle, Wycon, an Italian nail polish company decided to hop on the let's piss black people off the bandwagon with a nail polish dubbed  "Thick as a n*gga".

Wycon Racist Ad

Unlike the other two companies that immediately accepted culpability, Wycon dug its heels expressing that the name reflects its marketing strategy of using "made-up names that are a bit crazy.”

So here's the crazy question, are companies intentionally creating content that will cause uproar online? 

Considering the backlash that Dove's ad caused last year, it's pretty incredulous to think that companies releasing these racially insensitive ads are simply unaware and don't know better. 

Over the past ten years of Twitter's existence, something is clear. Black Twitter has emerged as a force that drives attention to issues otherwise ignored by mainstream media. 

With hashtag campaigns like #BlackLivesMatter becoming nationwide movements with global ramifications, it begs the question, are companies intentionally hoping to draw the ire of movements like Black Twitter to bring more attention to their brands?

What do you think? 

1 comment


I don’t think we need to worry about these companies that are making it perfectly clear how they feel about us. Why ask them to include us or provide products to suit our needs? Save your hard earned money and stop putting it in the pockets of companies that are only going to utilize it to try and hold us down and back even more. They’re not catering to us because they see that we’re chasing after them for services they have no intention to provide while neglecting some of our own who’ve been trying to cater to our needs since day one.

They’re playing us and we’re playing ourselves by even giving attention to their antics while neglecting supporting the entrepreneurship of people from our own communities who strive to meet our needs. Just keep this in mind:

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou

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