H&M's new collaboration with Italian designer Giambattista Valli accompanied by a tagline – 'I ❤️ GBV’ – the initials of the designer has not gone well with women’s rights campaigners because the initials of the designer are also a widely used acronym for "gender-based violence". H&M says the association is unintentional. But Women’s rights activities are demanding that the products be withdrawn. Until now as I write this blog, the products continue to be listed on their website.
The first thing that comes to my mind is that it is an ‘inadvertent blunder'. But H&M has done this a few times already so that puts a question on their intentions for sure. Now initials cannot change but the least H&M could do is not to use abbreviations that could be deemed sensitive and controversial for their diverse customer.
H&M's "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" sweatshirts can be categorized as such. When a brand 's advertising and branding process lacks Diversity Of Thought on the drawing board, this sort of insouciant messaging is the most likely outcome which in turn leads to poorly thought-out abbreviations and slogans.
I've conceived messaging strategy for a close competitor (H&M's) and my first impression of the way such brands operate is that despite having diverse teams (supposedly that is the basis of an assumption that there shouldn't be any impropriety) they have a method of working in silos where the concept-to-consumer teams often work against each other than with each other! The resultant downside is that lack of cohesiveness also leads to poor products and services.
While brands are using digital marketing campaigns to economize and increase profitability, they need to be wary of knowing the customer in and out and in a more individualistic and personalized narrative as opposed to having a generic overview of their diverse customer.
- Amit Anand