A men’s clothing boutique in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood caused a stir today over a post on the brand’s social media page.
The Serpentine, which was promoting their upcoming Black Friday sale, posted the image below to their Instagram page.
Using the hashtag #BlackFridaysMatter and the caption “ Mobilize locally, support globally, 20-40% in store only Friday Nov 25th to Sunday Nov 27th.” The store began receiving complaints about the insensitive nature of the posts. Many commenters were quick to point out that the post was a mistake and that a movement such as Black Lives Matter should not be used as a marketing gimmick to sell high-end clothing.
The Serpentine started replying to commenters, using the same response to several posts.
In this writer’s own opinion, I respect that the company tries to be provocative and controversial with their promotional strategy. With that being said, I think this post was a misstep by the company in several ways. If you are going to promote a sale while parodying a movement sparked by the murders of people, you must be prepared to handle the backlash. You can’t post controversy and then play ignorant when you get called out for insensitivity.
There is also a difference in controversial and insensitive when it comes to marketing, and there is a fine line dividing the two. Once that line has been crossed, you could find yourself in some very hot water. Some commenters said they supported the post while others commented that they will no longer be shopping in the store. Sadly, this isn’t the first time a high-end Yorkville boutique has been caught up in a controversy with racist undertones.
It also seemed that the company was standing its ground on the Instagram issue, that is, until they started getting contacted by the media. VICE wrote an article about the incident earlier in the day and spoke with people from The Serpentine. You can read that article by clicking here.