The Gist: In the span of a week, H&M’s favorability has significantly dropped–presumably due to the brand’s  latest misstep.

Last Monday, H&M ran an ad featuring an African American child wearing a sweatshirt with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle.” <Insert facepalm emoji here.> A whirlwind of tweets and Facebook posts started cropping up. Then, The Weeknd cut ties with H&M over the unfortunate oversight, and things really started blowing up.

Naturally, my curiosity led me to see if we could corroborate this with our data.

CivicScience tracks brand favorability across a variety of industries. A quick look at the numbers for H&M proved there is indeed a notable drop in favorability for the retailer.


Dates: December 1, 2017 – January 7, 2018

Dates: January 8 – 16, 2018

Further investigation attests H&M lost favor with Millennials and Gen-Xers, as well as urban dwellers. Given the age proxy, it’s no surprise parents and adults without kids are also likely to be less favorable towards the retailer.

This isn’t the first instance of brands making tone-deaf ads leading to a drop in favorability. We’ve seen similar drops with Pepsi’s Kendal Jenner Ad last spring. Brands have been under fire for releasing ads that generate controversy. Having a diverse set of marketing and advertising professionals can certainly mitigate the chances of these types of missteps from occurring in the first place.

However, all hope isn’t lost. There is a greater shift of H&M fans moving to the neutral vs. unfavorable zone. Perhaps there’s an opportunity for H&M to bounce back?