Well guys, it seems like we’re back at this again.

It was less than a year ago we had the Pepsi fiasco, the United Airlines disaster, not to mention Dove, Nivea, ……..and now, H&M

You would think by now brands would get it right and, at the very least have a team of persons to dot every ‘i’  and cross every ‘t’ before putting out their advertising campaigns, but alas, there seems to be a breakdown in communication when it comes to public image and marketing.


The thing is, in order market effectively, you need to connect with others, in a positive way…….so what seems to be the problem all of a sudden…….how come it seems that billion dollar brands are getting it wrong?


By far the backlash H&M is currently suffering is the worst that I’ve seen. Their apology and quick thinking of removing every trace of the offensive image has not sat well with a few people who have responded with violence aimed at the retail stores. Needless to say a few persons would have undoubtedly lost their jobs, and the cost of closing these damaged buildings I’m sure are in the millions.


Maybe this is the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’, hence the outpouring of rage, anger and complete disregard for human safety that we have witnessed on social media over the last few days. Regardless of where you sit, and your point of view, I think everyone can agree that a simple oversight can cost you…….a lot. How the public perceives you can make or break your business.


So how can something like this be prevented you might ask, well first things first, you have to know your target audience. If they higher ups had thought for one brief second they could have seen how the image could have been seen as offensive. I mean, come on…….have we all not been sensitized lately of all the things happening around us in the news and in the media? It was really in poor taste of the company to not look deeply into the culture of the people they’re trying to reach and in the wake of all that is happening and be a bit more cautious with their choices. A simple wardrobe change between the models could have prevented all of this.


Too often I see persons try to push their business with no idea of who their target audience is or the understanding that their target is a human being with feelings and emotions. Yes we all would like to sell, but you have to know how and when to communicate with your people. They’re dealing with so much just like you, and knowing the factors that trigger them can help you connect with them on a deeper level.  Take the time to understand who you’re talking to AND figure out what frame of mind they may be in so you will know how to talk to them. Think of it this way: How you may talk to your best friend on their wedding day will be vastly different from how you may talk to them if, God forbid, one of their loved ones died. This is the kind of understanding you must have for your people……..yes I said ‘your people’ because they are why you do what you do.


Second thing is have a strategy in place and ‘selling out’ is not a strategy. I can only imagine some narrow minded corporate exec yelling “WHAT CAN WE DO TO SELL MORE SWEATERS!?!”……..and such the coolest monkey in jungle was born. I shudder to think that there was no one to say that this probably wasn’t a good idea, but, if you’re blinded by just making ‘lots of cash’ I can see how certain things can be overlooked.


Think about what is the overall goal for your business. Selling is great but what’s the deeper reason you’re even doing what you’re doing. Why do you get up in the morning and do what you do?  Too often, as we go along and lose focus and before we know it we’ve lost sight of why we got into business in the first place. As a result, our marketing tactics (and our sales) suffer

So ask yourself……what’s my why?
• What’s my purpose?
• Why do I exist?
• Why do I matter in the world?

Post it up somewhere and look at it every day so you can constantly remind yourself that everything you do must connect with your why.


I am curious to see how the company pulls out of this, and I truly hope that other companies see what can happen if you overlook the obvious and refuse to dig deep before going to market.

The consequences are real and you don’t want this to happen to you and your business take the time to truly understand how you want the public to perceive you and make the necessary connections, because what can take you years to build can be torn apart in just a few hours……..just ask H&M


Did you like this piece? Let me know in the comments below and share your thoughts on the situation……..I would really love to hear your point of view.

You can also connect with me on my Facebook business page at Carli Communications if you’re interested marketing training and advice. (Don’t forget to click the follow button and set your notifications so you don’t miss a thing)