Pop star The Weeknd has cut ties with the international retail chain H&M after the company ran an ad featuring a black boy modeling a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle.”
The Canadian singer, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, had partnered with the Sweden-based company for its 2017 Spring Icons Collection and modeled some of its apparel.
On Monday, The Weeknd tweeted that he was “shocked and embarrassed” and “deeply offended” and “will not be working with @hm anymore…” along with a photo of the ad.
By 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, it had been retweeted close to 103,000 times and “liked” almost 230,000 times.
“We completely understand and agree with his reaction to the image. We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken and we also regret the actual print,” H&M said in a statement. “We will continue the discussion with The Weeknd and his team separately.”
Other celebrities have also gone after H&M online. NBA star LeBron James posted singer Chris Classic’s edited version of the ad on Instagram. It features a gold crown on the model’s head and a drawing of a crown covering the “coolest monkey in the jungle” line on the hoodie. The phrase “king of the world” run across the top of the photo.
H&M was accused on social media of being racist after using the photo online to sell a hoodie in the U.K. The retailer removed the image and the sweatshirt is no longer for sale anywhere.
The company pledged to “look into our internal routines to avoid such situations in the future.”