What in the World—Week of March 29

H&M faces Chinese boycott over forced labour stance
Hennes & Mauritz’s H&M AB is facing significant operating challenges in China for its stance on the use of forced labour in the country’s remote cotton-producing region of Xinjiang. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company issued a statement last year expressing concern over the use of forced labour and discrimination against ethnic minorities in the region. Last week, searches for the H&M name on the country’s largest ecommerce platforms were blocked, while people also took to Weibo—a Chinese version of Twitter—calling for people to boycott H&M, which operates more than 400 stores in the country. Two of the fashion retailer’s Chinese brand ambassadors also announced they were severing ties with the company over what they said was its smearing of China. “Spreading rumours to boycott Xinjiang cotton while trying to make money in China? Wishful thinking!” said China’s Communist Youth League in a Weibo post that attracted nearly 10,00 comments.

Get your kicks… on route 666
Forget the cloven hooves: Satan’s new kicks are apparently a pair of Nike Air Max 97s containing human blood. Brooklyn-based MSCHF, a company that specializes in what Business Insider once described as “random viral products,” has introduced a controversial product called “Satan Shoes.” They feature a drop of blood (reportedly donated by MSCHF employees) in the shoe’s air bubble, as well as a bronze pentagram-shaped charm on the tongue. According to The New York Times, the company plans to sell 666 pairs of the shoes for the ungodly sum of $1,108 a pair. A collaboration with the rapper Lil Nas X, the shoes are a follow-up to MSCHF’s 2019 “Jesus Shoe,” which contained a drop of holy water. Nike has already renounced the shoes, saying it has nothing to do with them. And for those who might get in trouble for spending more than a grand on a pair of $225 Nikes, they can always say the devil made them do it.

Amazon’s push-back tweets were a Bezos directive: report
Amazon was the subject of considerable scrutiny on Twitter last week, when it attacked prominent politicians including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for their criticism of its labour and business practices. According to Recode, the tweets from executives and the official Amazon account were the result of a directive from Jeff Bezos, who was dissatisfied the company wasn’t pushing back hard enough on critics. It comes as the ecommerce giant is facing its largest-ever union drive, led by employees at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. A “yes” vote this week, Recode reports, has the potential to force Amazon to “overhaul” how it manages its hundreds of thousands of frontline workers in the U.S.

Get a vaccine, go to Krispy Kreme 
Krispy Kreme announced last week it would give a free donut to anyone getting their COVID vaccine, part of its “Be Sweet” marketing initiative to inspire joy and kindness. But CNN says the chain soon had to defend itself against comedians and critics pointing out that obesity is risk factor that can lead to more severe COVID illness. “Krispy Kreme is offering free donuts to anyone who’s been vaccinated. Which is great news for anyone who got the shot but still has a death wish,” tweeted Stephen Colbert. “We’re a sweet treat company, [and] if folks don’t want to visit a donut shop, they don’t have to,” CEO Mike Tattersfield told Yahoo Finance Live on Friday. Last March, in the early days of the pandemic, Krispy Kreme also gave healthcare workers a dozen free donuts, with Tattersfield saying they gave away 30 million donuts in 2020.

Anyone for some Peepsi?
Pepsi is dropping a special edition of its cola for Easter that tastes like Peeps, with a “pillowy-soft and sweet” marshmallow flavour. Only about 9,000 of the special “Pepsi x Peeps” cans have been produced, and will be given away in a #HangingWithMyPeeps contest. People have to post a picture of “spring celebrations” on Twitter or Instagram and tag Pepsi with the hashtag for a chance to win. Pepsi’s vice-president of marketing Todd Kaplan told CNN the special mashup was about creating a “moment of joy” after a difficult year. “These limited-time offers [are] a way to engage our core fans and give them fun things to embrace,” he said. According to Peeps owner Just Born Quality Confections, about 2 billion Peeps are produced annually, and they are the most popular non-chocolate Easter treat. “[Pepsi customers] want sweet and they want to connect to things emotionally,” he said. “Peeps has its own subculture we wanted to tap into.”

David Brown