Another week, another social media fail by a giant brand which should certainly know better.
This time H&M, no strangers to controversy, were busted stealing an Australian musician’s music for the backing track of a social media campaign.
As much as we like stealing things from the Aussies – namely sporting trophies and claims to inventing the flat white – H&M did not come away with bragging rights or a deliciously milky caffeine hit.
No, no, no.
After claiming the music was produced for the global brand, it was soon revealed it was in fact the property of Mike Katz, a producer who works under the name Harvey Sutherland. It was his original song, and, H&M had not sought or obtained permission to use it.
The musician very savvily began commenting on the offending post, with many others joining in with #payharvey, and soon the post was removed and an apology issued.
This type of behaviour social media activists do not look too kindly on, and which does not reflect too kindly on their brand.
It makes H&M look like it is fulfilling almost every stereotype about big global brands stopping at nothing for their own commercial gain – crushing small independent artists on their way to Mr Burns-esque success.
It also erodes the good work H&M is doing to break down these types of stereotypes, especially after a number of other publicity hiccups.
Sure, it is not going to ruin their brand forever and most people will be outraged about something else in no time, but what it really comes down to is: It never should have got to this point, H&M should have known better.
It also should be noted that Katz isn’t just an independent Australian musician making tunes global giants want to steal – he is also an entertainment lawyer.
So he knows his copyright rights – and it reportedly “in talks” (or should we say “talk$”) with H&M.
It is not the first time a brand has found itself in trouble for “borrowing” music without asking, as the ABC reported.
“It’s not uncommon for a musician to find a major brand has used their work without their permission.
“The Black Keys sued a bank in 2011 for using Tighten Up without their permission, while the Beastie Boys went after the energy drink makers Monster for using excerpts of five of the group’s songs in a promotional video.”
Even our mate Sir John Key and his National party used that Eminem-esque track and were fined $600,000 for the pleasure.
There is a risk that this type of behaviour becomes normalised, we’re certainly finding ourselves less and less surprised by it.