And we thought Pizza Hut could do no wrong. The company apologized last week for an online advertisement featuring shrimp balls that offended blind people and fuelled protests outside of various branches across China, according to SCMP.
“In the matter of its shrimp balls ad, Pizza Hut would again like to solemnly apologise to all people living with disabilities and the general public, we hope for everyone’s understanding,” the company posted to its micro blog on Thursday.
The rather unappetizing advertisement, which has been pulled from all major Chinese online video portals, features a “confused” shrimp ball (it sounds more unwholesome every time I write it) complete with sunglasses and a cane. You can watch the 15-second ad here.
“Do you know why these balls are confusingly rolling around?,” one cartoon talking-head asks another in the clip, referring to shrimp balls. “Because they are blind balls.”
The words for “shrimp” and “blind” have the same pronunciation in Putonghua. Blind people also took offence in the choice of the word for “rolling”, which is often used as a curse.
The ad caused protests outside of Pizza Hut branches in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shijiazhuang, Qingdao, and Zhengzhou. Some blind protesters wore shirts that read “I’m not a blind ball”.
The company apologized, but many people are saying that it’s not enough.
“If this was a sincere apology, they should reply to these people living a disability in a proper way,” said a reporter with Qingdao Television in Shandong province. “Pizza Hut has to apologise through the media, because many blind people can’t go online and wouldn’t be able to find this apology.”
Pizza Hut’s parent company Yum! Brands has been making media headlines in the past year for scandals involving hormone-fed chickens and fake lamb meat.
[Image credit: Chinanews.com]