Name: Divine Mnguni
School: Curro Roodeplaat
Subject: Business Studies
Title: Racial tensions for H&M after releasing an ad of a black boy with a ‘coolest monkey in the jungle” hoodie.
Summary of article
H&M, a Swedish multinational clothing retail company was involved in a scandal due to an advert they released which triggered racial accusations and tensions and conflict within the South African society as a whole. The advert featured a young black boy wearing a hoodie with the inscriptions “coolest monkey in the jungle” on it. Whether this was product of theirs (H&M) was deliberate or accidental remains unknown, but ethically they were wrong, because better decisions and prospects could’ve been made, because South Africa is a country with a complicated and racial history, which many people still hold within their hearts to this day. H&M solved the issue by issuing a statement to address the issue thus making use of problem solving techniques, they apologized to the public on their Twitter account and admitted that they were wrong and how sorry they were, they also express their views on the issue of racism and in a way boost the store staff morale by not allowing the public to put the blame on them. Following this unethical behavior by H&M, the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) and its supporters expressed their anger to this advert by trashing several H&M stores in Gauteng, specifically the ones in Sandton, Menlyn Park and East Rand, these stores later closed down for a few days until the situation was considered safe to reopen again. Police had to get involved during these protests as the situation appeared as a form of dysfunctional conflict, especially in East Rand where police had to use rubber bullets in order to disperse the crowd of angry protestors. EFF national spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi tweeted that the EFF would visit every racist institution and ensures that such institutions suffer the consequences. I feel H&M could have made better decisions, maybe they could’ve even conducted a thorough market research process and environmental scanning process in order to try and understand what the customer wants and what the customer might see as offensive to them specifically before releasing the advert, thus they could’ve avoided the whole issue. I also feel EFF could’ve handled the situation in a much more peaceful way than to destroy the H&M stores, because this way H&M might feel they have been punished and this might have shifted focus from H&M and the racial advert to the EFF and the way they handle bad situations. H&M should also be more diverse and especially the people who make the designs, because this is where the issue started, but management of H&M is also to blame because they allowed the advert to go public. What’s most disappointing is the fact that this is not the first racial offense by H&M , because this incident follows another incident that happened in 2015 right here in South Africa in Cape Town Waterfront when H&M opened their first store in South Africa, they (H&M) were asked why they had no black models on their windows and they responded by saying that their marketing plan was intended on conveying a positive image, indirectly implying that black models would portray a negative image, this caused a storm of protest and you’d think H&M would’ve learnt to make better decisions and be more diverse after that, but clearly not. Not only to they lose customer loyalty because of this, but the public image also suffers.
Identification of business related topics
A lot can be taken in from this article but the most important here is about professionalism and ethics. Professionalism describes as the way a business is portrayed to all stakeholders with regards to their image, attitude, and service and product delivery as well as how ethically it is managed. Ethics described as moral principles or values that are held by society to describe what is right or wrong. Conflict Management is also noticed in the article, because of the way H&M tried to apologize as soon as possible (functional conflict) and as well as a problem solving technique and the way the EFF reacted to the advert (dysfunctional conflict). We could also point out the fact that in the sectors of industry, H&M falls under the tertiary sector, thus they sell a finished product. Several elements within the business environments is also included here especially involving the general management, production and public relations which fall under the micro environment. But as well as Political and Legislative elements which fall under the macro environment. Because H&M is still a new business to the South African market, and is a large entrepreneurial business thus it can fall under Entrepreneurship because it’s new and will provide employment to the people of South Africa. In terms of this advert and marketing H&M could have done a thorough market research process before launching the advert and they could have avoided this whole scandal, luckily they had insurance, which is a precautionary measure for in case something happens, and in this case they needed it after the EFF destroyed their stores.
Theoretic summary of the syllabus content relating to the issues covered by the article
Professionalism and Ethics
Professionalism which is the skill or behavior that goes beyond what an ordinary person would have or behaving in a more formal or business-like manner. Looking at the EFF regarding professionalism, the EFF could have handled the situation in very different way, because they jumped straight to dysfunctional conflict (An aggressive, sometimes uncontrollable type of conflict), thus acting in a very unprofessional manner, having no regard for the procedures to deal with such situations, and eventually the police were the ones who had to manage the conflict. H&M tried to avoid the conflict by quickly apologizing, most likely using the 4Q technique (Is it a real problem, is it a problem that I need to solve, Do I know what the real problem is, What do I want to achieve by solving the problem) to realize that they really have a serious problem on their hands. Ethics which is the moral principles that govern a person’s or business’s behavior or the conducting of an activity. H&M in this situation acted in an unethical manner (doing what is against the acceptable norm or infringes on the rights or dignity of others), they discriminated just as they did in 2015 which is a form of cultural pollution, but it should be noted that in terms of ethical theories this was a consequence-based theory, because they released the advert which they might have felt was acceptable but it wasn’t accepted by society, thus they suffered the consequences. The problem I feel is that H&M are not diverse, thus they only view things from one point of view, hence why they lacked creativity and ended up using the “coolest monkey in the jungle” slogan, they made it worse by using a black child to advertise that indirectly implying that black people are monkeys.
In this instance entrepreneurship in terms of H&M as a new business in the South African market. Entrepreneurship can be described as the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in hopes of profit. H&M as a large entrepreneurial business is expected to always act in a manner that is pleasing to the consumer, treating them with respect thus following Legislation and abiding the laws on human rights. H&M as a new business in South Africa is crucial because it provides employment and we appreciate that, because they introduced what entrepreneurship is aimed at which is: introducing new and different products and services to customers, introducing current products and services where there were none before and adapting or improving on products and services, but it doesn’t mean they should act in any way they like because this is not the first racial incident where they’re involved and I wonder whether they used the entrepreneurial tools ( market research, SWOT analysis or business plan) to analyze the environment, and the community, because racial tension has always been high in South Africa.
In terms of business environments we notice that the article involves certain functions from the micro environment described as internal factors that will influence the performance of the business, more especially the public relations (concerns building the image of the business), general management (coordinates and oversees all the other functions) and production functions (combines the factors of production (labour, entrepreneurship, capital, labour) that goes into creating a finished product that satisfies a consumers needs). H&M which falls under the tertiary sector (has to do with the distribution of final goods and services to consumers, these are made in the secondary sector) knew about this product because its theirs, general management failed to see that calling people “coolest monkey in the jungle” would be offensive regardless of the race, they allowed the production process of this to go on and eventually they gave the public relations function the go-ahead to launch an advert with this product, so they deserve to be judged for allowing this product to hit the shelves, because regardless of race it’s still offensive to indirectly call someone a monkey, especially children who have such adaptive mindsets. The macro environment described as the combination of external factors that the business has no control over, this is also included in the article, in terms of a the P(political) and L(legislative) elements from a PESTLE analysis. This is because H&M had no control over the actions of political party, the EFF attacking their stores and in a way it turned political because those destroying the stores actually had an impact on business operations and day to day running. But H&M failed to abide by the law that everyone should have equality, and no one should be discriminated against, not by race, religion, nationality nor gender, both on the current article and the one that happened in 2015, thus broke Legislation and had to issue a public apology, to avoid the mother of the boy in the advert taking legal action against them.
Insurance which can be describe as an arrangement by which a company or state undertakes to provide a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness or death in return for payment of a specified premium. I included insurance, because it will be important to H&M following the destruction of their stores by EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) protestors, they will need it in order to be able to reopen their stores quicker once the situation has been declared safe and once they have apologized to all affected parties.
In future H&M should conduct a thorough market research process as well as ensure that their products won’t ever cause such a PR scandal, it worse because it is not their first one in South Africa, at this rate their public image might be tarnished to most, and some might just be asking themselves what’s next with H&M, hence once again proving that diversity is good for creative thinking because it helps a company view things from all perspectives before making a decision.
Benefits (value) of using articles
I felt this was a good article, because:
It is direct and very easy to understand, because it conveys the issue and sticks to that issue and it gives the actual happenings of that day as well as the after effects and what led to the protests happening as well as solidifying the whole article by including a short history of H&M and its problems regarding racial tensions.
It gives you a different view point meaning you can read it a get the perspective of which the author was trying to portray at the same time you can include your own perspectives and see it from your own viewpoint.
It’s thoroughly researched and has all the relevant content, because we can see that the author really followed the story, having known about the tweets mentioned in the article as well as the words of the police spokesperson, indicating to us that the person really wanted to get the entire story in a small space and they did that really well, because as the reader you can easily understand the story and you get the most important information of the situation.
It’s not biased or favors a certain thing, because the author doesn’t mention themselves within the story, or how they favor a certain race, it’s neutral and addresses the issue at hand without getting off topic of favoring something specific for example, the fact that the EFF did something and the ANC didn’t act quick enough, it doesn’t favor the EFF at all, it just mentions that they acted which is pure and truthful news.
It stimulates creativity and helps you think more about the type of country we live in and how something such as a political party that we look up to can instigate violence and solve things with violence, which makes you think why? Or why H&M is always getting themselves in racial issues, do they really have something against black people or are they just bad at marketing and making decisions that will please everyone.
You gain more knowledge from reading many different articles and the one you choose, because what if you didn’t know that this happened because you don’t follow the news of any sort, you’d now know more about what’s happening in your country and in the world, because you simply read.
Reflection on the task
I felt this was a challenging task, because sometimes it is so easy to misinterpret an article, that was my biggest fear, the article being about a certain issue and me discussing something completely different, thus I have learnt to read the article at least 3 times and then analyze it to see that you truly understand, or get someone else to read it and then compare their perspective of the article to your own. The task was very time consuming, maybe it was because of my poor time-management which I can improve in future, but it’s time consuming because you have to find the right article for you, one you feel you understand the best thus you have to read a whole bunch of articles which is very time consuming because you only use one, but yet again I might be saying this because I didn’t give myself enough time without pressure to finish the task which next time I hope to improve. The task helped me gain a lot of knowledge, because in the process of looking for the article, you have to read a whole bunch before choosing, thus reading a lot of different articles have helped know more about the affairs in our country and how they can be easily linked to the business world. I feel the instruction of the task itself were a bit complicated and hard to understand, they were not detailed enough, thus I feel that’s what made this task more challenging, and what should be improved on, but I learned that you have to think outside the box in some instances and which is what I did here, I analyzed the task and did it to the best of my understanding. In conclusion I would say I actually enjoyed the doing this task even though it was a bit challenging, I think I enjoyed it because I gained a lot of new knowledge and I revised what I had forgotten which I hope will benefit me in the future.
Page 1: Cover page
Page 2: Index page
Page 3: Article
Page 4: Article
Page 5: Summary of article and issues addressed
Page 6: Business related topics
Page 7: Theoretic summary of the syllabus content relating to the issues covered by the article
Page 8: Theoretic summary of the syllabus content relating to the issues covered by the article
Page 9: Value of article
Page 10: Reflection of task
Page 11: References
Page 12: Anti-plagiarism statement
Page 13: Anti-plagiarism checking statement
Meyer, E, Strydom, Z., 2018. Business Studies Grade 12 Learner’s Book. 3rd ed. Horizon: Consumo Publishers.
Khanyi Ndabeni. 2018. H&M will have to ‘invest in building bridges’ after racial blunder, says communication expert. ONLINE Available at: https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-01-13-hampm-will-have-to-invest-in-building-bridges-after-racial-blunder-says-communication-expert/. Accessed 23 April 2018.
Russel, Y, Topper, S, Akerman, L, Oliviera, J. 2017. NSC Business Studies Grade 10. 4th ed. Paardekraal: Excom Publishers CC.
Meyer, E, Strydom, Z., 2018. Business Studies Grade 11 Learner’s Book. 3rd ed. Horizon: Consumo Publishers.
Samantha West. 2018. H&M faced backlash over its ‘monkey’ sweatshirt ad. It isn’t the company’s only controversy.. ONLINE Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/01/19/hm-faced-backlash-over-its-monkey-sweatshirt-ad-it-isnt-the-comanys-only-controversy/?noredirect=on. Accessed 23 April 2018.
News24. 2018. H&M withdraws ‘monkey’ hoodie after black child ad outrage. ONLINE Available at: https://m.nes24.com/World/News/hm-withdraws-money-hoodie-after-black-child-ad-outrage-20180109. Accessed 23 April 2018.