• Mette Kirk Kjærsgaard
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the crisis, which H&M experienced in January 2018 after the ‘Coolest Monkey in the Jungle’ incident. The crisis emerged after a photo on H&M’s web shop featuring an African-American boy in a hoodie with the writing ‘Coolest Monkey in the Jungle’, sparked racist accusations on social media towards H&M. H&M’s social media accounts overflowed with comments calling H&M racist and condemning the behavior and decisions, which led to this sweatshirt being put on an African-American boy, focusing on the subliminal messaging this induced. H&M therefore issued a public apology across social media channels, taking full responsibility for the crisis. This thesis therefore deals with the uprising on social media against H&M, and how the crisis communication was constructed, leading to the following problem formulation with sub-questions: How may this thesis’ choice of theory and methodological framework enrich the field of Crisis Communication on Social Media? - How was H&M’s ‘Coolest Monkey in the Jungle’ crisis perceived by consumers on social media? - Which rhetorical aspects did H&M apply in the apology issued? This is analyzed using a thematic analysis conducted through coding, which establishes the consumer perspective, both on H&M and the crisis, but also the perception of the crisis communication. The apology issued via a Press Release was analyzed using the Appraisal Framework, which considers the evaluative stance of the writer, and how the text establishes feelings, and lets the reader adopt a similar stance. Additionally, an analysis of rhetorical appeals was conducted, as this in combination with an Appraisal analysis helped to establish how rhetorical aspects aid crisis communication and its adoption. Henceforth, H&M’s Press Release was analyzed using the Situational Crisis Communication Theory by Timothy Coombs, to establish whether H&M adopted the best suited approach in the aftermath. The findings concluded that 15% of consumers viewed H&M and its crisis communication in a positive light and 26% in a negative light, despite the rhetorical analysis revealing that H&M followed the best suited approach for this given crisis. The Appraisal analysis revealed a high level of Judgment markers towards H&M itself, and graduation markers enforcing the unequivocal admittance of guilt. Simultaneously, the analysis of persuasive appeals revealed a higher level of Ethos and Pathos, hence focusing on feelings rather than logical and rational reasoning. This finding is also in accordance to the ethical nature of the crisis. Conclusively, the thesis found that despite H&M’s best intentions and practices, the ethical nature of the crisis acted as a natural hedge to the results of crisis communication.
Publication date31 May 2018
Number of pages98
ID: 280139366