African Americans Aren’t Too Jolly About Forever 21 Wakanda Christmas Sweater

By: Isaac Breese

Instagram: @pinsandlapels

Medium: @pinsandlapels

Imagine a superhero movie with a predominantly black cast that takes place in Africa. From the superhero to the extras everyone is of a brown complexion with the acceptation of a few people. 

The movie served as an inspiration to Africans and African Americans around of the world because of its portrayal of black people. It did so well that it set box office records and was nominated for numerous awards. 

Now imagine a clothing company trying to capitalize on the success of the movie with a sweater designer in honor of the production and then putting it on a white model. 

If something seems a little off with this scenario you’re not alone. If it seems familiar that’s because it actually happened.

Recently Forever 21 did exactly this by making a festive, Black Panther, Christmas sweater that read “Wakanda Forever” and used a white, blonde hair, blue eyed model to advertise it.

To no one’s surprise black twitter was outraged.

One person tweeted,

Another person said,

A former Forever 21 men brand specialist even said that he was highly offended by the ad.

From a business standpoint this was simply terrible marketing. When it comes to marketing and advertising brands have to understand their audience. They should to know what is and what isn’t acceptable. 

And if you’re a global brand like Forever 21 it’s imperative that you understand cultures; especially the ones in your home country. 

As big as Black Panther was among the African American community there should have been no way a white person was cast to advertise any merchandise that alluded to the movie.

It didn’t take rocket science to figure out that the African American community wouldn’t approve of this ad. Like so many other things, the ad was taken as appropriation of black culture.

Ultimately brands simply need to be aware of the feelings and attitudes of the people they market to. There are too many things people are sensitive to, and race and gender are at the top of the list.

If brands aren’t careful they can easily offend not just their target audience but an entire community. Or worse, an entire ethnicity.

Hopefully Forever 21 can pull it together in 2019. New year new ad campaigns. 

Post Author: Isaac Breese

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *