Clothing brand H&M faces online backlash for a controversial ad campaign that is deemed offensive for “sexualizing schoolgirls”. The brand has since apologized and taken down the post.
The campaign was part of H&M’s back-to-school advertisement and featured two young girls in school dresses with a questionable caption, “Make those heads turn in H&M’s Back To School fashion”. The suggestive caption and overall tone of the ad highly upset parents and child protection advocates, who have deemed it “highly offensive” and contributed to the global outrage it provoked.
British political commentator took to X (formerly Twitter) to criticize the slogan, and other social media users agreed with him.
H&M is forced to pull ‘sexualised’ school uniform advert featuring two young girls in pinafores with the slogan
“Make those heads turn” 😮
This was no mistake, this campaign would have had to go through many people to be signed off,why would people turn heads for kids??..sick. pic.twitter.com/vRCAoJkmHI
— Adam Brooks AKA EssexPR 🇬🇧 (@EssexPR) January 22, 2024
@hm @hmaustralia what is your intention with this sponsored Facebook ad? Little schoolgirls generally don’t want to “turn heads”. The large numbers I engage with in schools want to be left alone to learn and have fun and not draw unwanted attention to their appearance 1/ pic.twitter.com/DDwv42GeNz
— Melinda TankardReist (@MelTankardReist) January 18, 2024
While some users have questioned the criticism, claiming that “I must need to adjust my offence-ometer, this appears completely harmless to me”, others have emphasized the inappropriateness and replied, “Why would children want to turn heads? That is utterly ridiculous.” Many expressed bewilderment that no one questioned its unsuitability throughout the process of making the ad.
The advertisement has resulted in critics pointing out the fragile balance brands needed to navigate when creating marketing content for younger audiences. In particular, they emphasized corporate responsibility when it came to depicting young girls and the portrayal of childhood.
H&M has since taken down the ad and issued an apology.
“We have removed this ad,” the company said in a statement. “We are deeply sorry for the offence this has caused and will look into how we present campaigns going forward.”