Burberry Chinese New Year Ad Draws Flak For Being 'Creepy'

A photo of Burberry branded umbrellas
This is not the first time that a foreign brand launched a seemingly disjointed campaign in the world’s largest economy. (Photo: Kok Leng, Maurice Yeo / Wikimedia Commons)

Burberry's latest advertising campaign for China's upcoming Spring Festival seems to have been lost in translation after netizens panned the official photos calling them creepy and out of touch. The photos, posted on the UK luxury brand's social media accounts on January 3, depicted a Chinese family gathering for an all-important photo to welcome the Chinese New Year. However, the presence of unsmiling models amid a rather gloomy background generated more ridicule than praise.

One social media user reportedly commented that it looked like the family members posing around the grandmother seated at the middle were out to fight over the wealth of the extremely rich old lady, writes Jing Daily. Because none of the models were smiling and the textures used were rather dark, some criticized it as looking like a horror movie than a celebration of what is supposedly the most important festival in the country. 

This is not the first time that a foreign brand launched a seemingly disjointed campaign in the world's largest economy. In April 2018, the House of Balenciaga issued an apology after a video of a Chinese man being roughly ushered out of a Paris shop went viral on social media platforms WeChat and Weibo. The company's accounts were instantly filled with negative comments, with some accusing the brand of racism. 

In December 2018, Dolce & Gabbana was forced to cancel its runway shoe after models, sponsors and VIPs boycotted the show in response to the brand's supposedly racist online video ad that showed a Chinese model struggling to east Western food using chopsticks. 

The latest Burberry ad stars famous Chinese actresses Zhou Dongyu and Zhao Wei, among other local models, to make the group of eight. According to the Straits Times, the actresses did not really find anything wrong with how the photo was taken or how it was portrayed. Zhou was also quoted as saying that its simple concept holds a ceremonial vibe that gives it a deeper meaning. 

Netizens do not seem to be convinced of its "deep" and "serious" merits, though, who generally said that the long faces definitely do not complement the festive season that is the Chinese New Year. The photos were directed and photographed by Ethan James Green. 

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