H&M, the popular clothing and fashion giant, is in hot water over an ad that was part of the label's latest swimwear campaign. In it, a deeply tanned model, who is shown sporting a bikini, has sparked outrage from cancer groups and advertising watchdogs.
The ads have also been printed in 43 other countries and have drawn criticism for the model being overly tanned. Sweden's Advertising Ombudsman is said to have gotten several complaints concerning H&M's latest campaign.
“We regret if we have upset some of our customers; we only wanted to show our latest swimwear,” said Håcan Andersson, spokesman for H&M, to Aftonbladet.
Additionally, the ad has drawn backlash for being sexist and discriminatory, that the model was too thin and is shown bearing an unhealthy tan.
A spokesperson for H&M defended some of the allegations by telling local press that the model, Isabeli Fontana, is from Brazil and she naturally has a darker skin tone, in comparison with other European models.
In response, the watchdog ultimately ruled the campaign was neither sexist nor does it promote an unhealthy body image, with respects to the model's weight.
It did agree, however, H&M used a model that was too tan. The Swedish Cancer Society blasted the ads in May.
“It is widely known that an exaggerated exposure of the skin to radiation to the sun is bad and can lead to skin cancer. The advertisement shows an ideal through the model’s extremely tanned skin, which would be harmful to try to achieve,” the watchdog wrote in a statement.
H&M said they never intended to use a model that would be deemed as promoting an unhealthy ideal.
"Social responsibility is very important to us and we have an ongoing dialogue internally about ethics and morals, based on our advertising policy," said H&M representative, Marie Rosenlind, adding it wasn't the company's "Intention to encourage a harmful behavior or to show a specific ideal. Our aim has solely been to show our current swimwear collection. We are very sorry for the ones being upset by our latest swimwear campaign."