Update, March 24: The fabricated band profiles were not the work of H&M, but a prank played on the clothing manufacturer by Strong Scene Productions.
As Noisey has discovered, the band names themselves might have been the work of H&M, but the fictional backstories – including the right-wing ideologies of some – were fleshed out by Strong Scene Productions as an elaborate joke.
Representatives from the label used the patches on the offending clothing in H&M’s spring collection as the basis for their prank, partially as a backlash against the commodification of metal.
“We…wanted to point out the fact that you cannot commercialize a subculture without actually knowing all the different aspects of it,” Henri Sorvali, a member of Finnish metal band Finntroll told Noisey. “Knowledge on your product is essential in marketing, and Strong Scene supports self-awareness and education for everyone on the matter.
“The purpose of the group was to create discussion on the fact that metal culture is more than just “cool” looking logos on fashionable clothes,” he continued, “and has many more aesthetic and ideological aspects in different subgenres than what some corporations are trying to express.”
The case could be simply be one of the strangest instances of viral marketing we’ve witnessed.
Swedish clothing retailer H&M have been accused of elaborately fabricating fake underground metal bands to promote their new clothing line.
It began when a label called Strong Scene Productions announced H&M would release a clothing line based around some of their acts that would act as a “musical trip down in memory lane … showcasing the talents and forgotten jewels of global underground metal music.” They claimed the line would feature logos from some forgotten greats including LA/NY, Mortus, Motmros, The One, Grey and more. The problem, quickly pointed out by Reddit and metal blog Metal Injection, is that there is little to no evidence that any of these bands exist.
What’s worse is that most of the evidence you can find about the bands points to this all being one giant fabrication. The label Strong Scene and some of the bands associated with it claim to have a history reaching back to the 90s, or even the 80s, but all records of their existence — songs, websites, Myspace pages, Twitter accounts, even the accounts of fans — have only popped up in the last week or so. What’s even stranger is — perhaps in an extreme attempt to authenticate some of this — some of the bands fall in line with NSBM (National Socialist Black Metal) imagery and feature Neo-Nazi imagery.
To further authenticate it as this story has developed many of these links, web pages, and several supportive tweets from Finntroll/Moonsorrow member Henri Sorvali (who appears to be in on the campaign) have disappeared.
H&M has yet to actually comment on whether they were behind this entire bizarre campaign. But think of the alternative if somehow these bands are real. That would mean despite these groups being so influential (Grey is credited for starting female symphonic metal, The One apparently “formed the basis for a whole generation of music” in the 80s by popularizing cassette trading) they were completely forgotten by the metal community, and was rediscovered by H&M of all places. It would also mean H&M is printing shirts for real neo-nazi metal bands.
More on this once the company addresses it, but for now it looks like unless they’re the most cvlt clothing company on earth, H&M have unleashed one of the more ill-advised marketing campaigns in recent history.