Qiaobi, a Chinese detergent brand, has made headlines globally.
A woman does the laundry. A black man painting the house woos her with a wolf whistle. The woman beckons to him with her finger, and shoves the man into a washing machine and sits on top of it as he gets washed. Thanks to the detergent, a fair-skinned Asian emerges after the wash. The woman is delighted. He holds up a condom before the brand signs off.
It wasn't just plain racist. Campaign Asia-Pacific
reported that it was also a blatant rip-off from a decade-old Italian commercial. The only difference being the older TVC says 'Coloured is better' for Colourera Italiana, and a black man emerges at the end.
In its response to Campaign Asia-Pacific, the company said, "The creative process was meant to add a bit of delight by using a little artistic exaggeration. It was merely for comic effect; there was no intention to stir up emotions or show disrespect to other nationalities. Friends in the media, please understand. The creative work was completed by a different company, and we only found out later that there was an Italian work like this; I can't reveal the team/agency who did this."
The company later issued a statement on Weibo that it had stopped running the ad. While it did apologise for hurting sentiments of those of African descent, it added: "We sincerely hope that internet users and the media will not continue to over-analyse the situation."
If anyone needs to analyse this, it is Qiaobi, and we are sure they will.
But they do need to remember that trying to direct internet user behaviour is a futile exercise.
As for media, someone needs to tell them that the press works differently in different parts of the world.