By: Isaac Breese
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,
To no one’s
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
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
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.