The Chinese company behind the shockingly racist laundry detergent ad that everybody is talking about has responded to the global backlash against their ad, calling foreign media “too sensitive.”
The infamous advertisement for Qiaobi-brand laundry detergent was circulated around on WeChat early on Thursday. Before the end of the day, it had become a viral sensation, hitting the top of Reddit, garnering over 2 million views on YouTube and being featured in articles by major international publications around the world.
In the video, a paint-splattered black man confidently approaches a young Chinese woman, only to have detergent placed in his mouth and his body shoved into a washing machine for a thorough rinsing. Once the wash cycle is done, out pops a pristine young Chinese man, as clean as can be.
After watching the ad, many have wondered if it is “the most racist ad ever.” The company behind the ad has now come forward to explain just what in the world they were thinking.
In an interview over the phone with Party mouthpiece the Global Times, a spokesperson surnamed Wang from the Shanghai-based Leishang cosmetics company, which produces the Qiaobi-brand detergent, said that the commercial had been filmed at the beginning of 2015.
“We meant nothing but to promote the product, and we had never thought about the issue of racism,” Wang said. “The foreign media might be too sensitive about the ad.”
“Instead of using the full version of the commercial, we actually aired a 5-second version which does not have the black character. We have no idea why the full version went viral online,” he added.
Wang’s comments would seem to contradict reports on Weibo that the full ads had been aired on Chinese television and during previews at Wanda Cinemas earlier this month. Wang refused to reveal any more information about the commercial’s production or cost to Global Times.
He also did not address the fact that the video is actually a blatant ripoff (even using the exact same music and sound effects) of a series of Italian laundry detergent ads that were aired about 9 years ago. Containing similar racist overtones, the original ads argue that in fact “Coloured is better.”
The Chinese advertisement would seem to disagree with this statement. If you somehow haven’t already seen it, watch the ad below:
Thanks to traditional beauty standards valuing white skin, many Chinese people have a well-established phobia of dark skin which unfortunately also breeds racist attitudes towards people of African descent, who are viewed by some as “dirty” simply because of their skin tone.
The black man in this laundry detergent ad isn’t the first victim of China’s efforts at Hollywood-level whitewashing. Last year, a Chinese promotional poster for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was widely criticized by fans as being “racist” with the character played by black actor John Boyega inexplicably being shrunken in size.
However, it’s also worth noting that since the ad went viral worldwide, criticism has been coming in from inside China as well. Quartz reports:
In fact, most Chinese users discussing the commercial (registration required) on the microblogging platform Weibo agreed that it was “racist,” “horrible and disgusting.”
One user wrote, “This is undoubtedly racial discrimination. Those that can get on YouTube [which is blocked in China], should denounce the ad and make clear that it is the producers of this video who are racist, not the majority of Chinese.”
It seems like the video’s producers have now made that very clear all by themselves.