H&M Pulls Back-to-School Ad After Facing Backlash for Sexualizing Young Children; Issues Apology

The campaign featured an image of two primary school-aged girls donning pinafore dresses

Fashion giant H&M has withdrawn a controversial ad for school uniforms after facing accusations of sexualizing young children, according to a report by The Independent. The campaign featured an image of two primary school-aged girls donning pinafore dresses with a caption that sparked criticism, stating, "Make those heads turn in H&M's Back to School fashion."

H & M

A staggering number of internet users expressed strong disapproval of the advertisement, with one user questioning the intention behind the sponsored Facebook ad directed at schoolgirls.

The caption, "Make those heads turn," was deemed inappropriate, with comments highlighting the need for brands to prioritize responsible advertising, particularly when involving children.

Social media reactions included comments such as, "This is sickening, sexualizing kids," and criticisms of the tone-deaf use of the phrase in connection with images of young girls in school uniforms. Some users found the pose and slogan peculiar for a school uniform campaign, while others labeled the ad as revolting and called for its removal and investigation.

In response to the backlash, H&M issued an apology, acknowledging the offense caused and revealing that the ad had been removed, clarifying that it was only live in Australia.

The company expressed regret and vowed to reassess their approach to future campaigns to avoid similar controversies.

This incident recalls a similar controversy involving Chinese-owned online marketplace Temu in 2023, which faced backlash for an advertisement deemed to sexualize a child. The Advertising Standards Authority noted that the advert featured a girl aged eight to ten wearing a bikini in a pose considered too adult for her age, resulting in public outcry.