The recent H&M ad with a young African American boy wearing a hoodie saying ‘Coolest Monkey in the Jungle’ has sparked controversy worldwide, enough to have the brand issue an apology and remove the image from its campaigns. H&M has also been losing celebrity supporters like The Weeknd in the wake of this scandal.
Controversial ads which trivialize sexual and gender discrimination are rampant worldwide, the last Dove ad being another prominent example. Similarly, Pakistan too has had its fair share of offensive ads that have caused public outrage.
Here’s a look back at some of the most controversial ones…
Footwear company Bata recently landed itself in hot water with their ad which featured a male model and the phrase ‘womanizer & comfortable with it’ emblazoned across it. The sexist ad was removed after an outbreak of rage across social media, and the brand issued an apology. It has to be said that Bata Pakistan’s entire take on the international ‘Comfortable With It’ campaign is poorly envisioned and executed and promotes the wrong social values. More on that later.
Aamna Aqeel’s ‘Be my slave’
Aamna Aqeel’s editorial shoot titled ‘Be My Slave’ for a magazine in 2013 showed a model being served by a dark-skinned child slave. The designer reportedly said her aim was to shed light on the issue of child labour, but the racial discrimination and slave imagery were quite undeniable.
Alee Hassan’s ‘Fad Coffins’
LSA winning photographer Alee Hasan’s ‘Fad Coffins’ editorial also added to the racially inappropriate campaigns seen in the country. The model, and Alee’s muse, Anam Malik was painted black with her hair left wild and unkempt, like in an afro. The title read ‘Fad Coffins’ and had her dressed in what seemed to be a trash bag.
In a conversation with Dawn Images, the photographer refuted the claims by saying, “I’m not trying to criticise any race or origin. My style is about transformation, I work with colours and textures. Like I made the costumes in this shoot with plastic sheets styled to look like high fashion.”
Magnum’s ‘Chocolate Boy’
The Magnum party every year promises a high-octane affair of fashion and sweet delicacies. However, the party in 2016 met its fair share of controversies when it featured a dark skinned man lounging in a tub full of chocolate. Naturally people were outraged that the model was likely chosen for his dark skin to be equated to a ‘chocolate boy.’
Khawar Riaz’s ‘Men are the new women’
Photographer and stylist Khawar Riaz launched a campaign for his men’s salon in 2010 called, ‘It’s a man’s world – men are the new woman’. Khawar explained that he wanted to imply how men are an equal part of the fashion industry, but the campaign seemed to be in bad taste for its poor choice of words.