Home / Why is the Coolest Monkey Hoodie Offensive?

 

THE COOLEST MONKEY

This hoodie has sparked rage. Many people feel as if the placement of a shirt with the title "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" on a black child carries an undertone of racism. First, the question is whether or not this is intentional or a case of perception mismanagement. But does it matter why it happened? The reality is connecting black people to monkeys will provoke anger regardless of whether or not there is a racist intention. 

The term "Monkey" can be found in the list of ethnic slurs commonly made toward black people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_slurs

Social media is full of racially charged memes comparing black people to monkeys. 

 

There is an abundance of racist images on the internet that compares black people to monkeys. Black people clearly have a strong cultural sensitivity to being referred to as monkeys.

What is Perception Mismanagement?

Perception mismanagement is marketing or communications which promotes images, connections, or messages which can be perceived as racist or bias toward a specific culture or community of people. Many times these perceptions come from historical references, connections to widely used racial slurs or images, and haphazard placement of "diverse" models and images in advertisements. 

The Risks of Perception Mismanagement

Many people who have been loyal to certain brands of products feel a sense of expectation of respect for their cultures and identities by these companies.

Cultural insensitivity can lead to loss of profits, business relationships, and of course, loyal customers while impacting business with potential customers. 

Why do companies "miss the mark"?

Many companies deal with diversity by asserting all people are the same and promoting their advertisements as such. By doing this, companies disregard cultural sensitivities, and thus, greatly increasing the risk of perceptive mismanagement. 

"Inclusion comes through awareness of differences not ignorance of differences."

We are seeing more instances of perceptive mismanagement as more companies are taking the risks to promote more diverse images and messages in advertisement and sales outlets.

3 TIPS FOR PERCEPTIVE MANAGEMENT 

 1. Understand the cultural sensitivities of your target market before you advertise to it. Be well aware of the racial slurs and stereotypes often applied to your target market.  Perform a Perceptive Assessment prior to the release of new communications.

2. Have diverse marketing and sales teams who represent the diverse cultures and backgrounds of your target market. Provide a safe space for these teams to discuss and review marketing materials and assess the perceptive risks as it relates to religion, culture, race, sexism, and other categories of differences. Hiring a Perceptive Management Consultant  can be the saving grace for companies who want to reach larger and more diverse markets while mitigating the risk of Perceptive Mismanagement. 

3. Learn from your mistakes. Do not disregard the complaints of cultural insensitivity from your stakeholders. 

 Undi Ladd, CIA, CPEA
Diversity Consultant
AEES Consulting