Fortunately for Nintendo, anger towards their move to standardize the Chinese name of Pikachu has dissipated as the wrath of Hong Kong protesters is now descending fully upon French cosmetics giant Lancôme.
Following the PR fiasco that erupted from Lancôme’s hasty decision to cancel its sponsored concert starring Hong Kong pro-democracy singer Denise Ho after receiving online backlash from the mainland, angry protesters were met with closed doors and rope barricades today as the troubled cosmetics company chose to shut down all of its HK locations.
According to SCMP, dozens of protesters crowded around outside of Lancôme’s main location in Hong Kong at Lane Crawford in Causeway Bay’s Time Square mall, chanting slogans and holding signs before leaving peacefully. In attendance were six pan-democrat leaders, all of whom brought signs reading: “We are all Denise Ho, say no to mainland hegemony.”
Lawmaker “Longhair” Leung Kwok Heung, one of the six politicians leading the protest, said that “This matter is not her personal matter, and not the company’s matter either — it is white terror.
Meanwhile, Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man Ching invoked the French motto of “liberty, equality, fraternity” and juxtaposed those with Lancôme’s profit-oriented mindset, which she termed as: “blatant, naked, despicable.”
Check out some video of the protests below:
In addition to its main location in Times Square, Lancôme’s other outlets in various malls across the city were closed down for the day. Even non-affiliated brands like Yves Saint Laurent Beauté and Helena Rubinstein also closed their booths in Times Square to avoid getting caught up in the whole affair.
On Twitter, the hashtag #boycottLancome spread like wildfire:
— Chris Derps (@ChrisDerps) June 8, 2016
The whole thing began last week when Chinese netizens condemned Lancôme for sponsoring a concert featuring the politically-controversial Canto-pop singer Denise Ho. Backed by the full might of Party mouthpiece the Global Times, web users began to call for a boycott of the French company. Lancôme soon caved to the pressure and cancelled the concert. Unfortunately for them, this failed to do much to quiet things in the mainland, while it did manage to enrage people in Hong Kong.
While the company claimed that it merely canceled the concert because of “safety reasons,” angry Hong Kong netizens have flooded Lancôme’s Facebook page with angry comments like: “Shut down all your stores in Hong Kong if you don’t care about the Hong Kong market.” Others mocked the company’s excuse by telling them to “write it in simplified Chinese so that your target audiences can understand.”
In response to the furor in Hong Kong, the Global Times posted some of its thoughts to Weibo:
“The Chinese public have slowly come to realize that they themselves are an influential market force. As such, they will view unfavorably those artists and outside forces who ‘eat from China’s rice but break her bowl.'”
The day before the protests, Denise Ho replied to the cancellation of her concert on Facebook with an official statement written in English and French.
For those without VPNs (English):
I express my deepest regret concerning Lancôme’s two separate announcements on June 5, 2016, first to draw a line between me and the brand, then abruptly cancelling the upcoming musical performance for “safety reasons”. These statements both seriously misled the public and jeopardized my personal reputation.
This is not only about me. This is about those who believe in freedom, justice and equality. This is about those precious universal values that every individual yearn for. This is about what kind of a world we want to live in. It is unjust when people have to be punished for speaking out, standing up and seeking for these rights we consider to be basic human rights. When a global brand like Lancôme has to kneel down to a bullying hegemony, we must face the problem seriously as the world’s values have been seriously twisted. Individuals, corporations, and society all become victims, everyone is deeply and gravely affected.
I say this with respect, but corporations do have social responsibility in addition to pursuing profits. My engagement with Lancôme was meant to be a pure artistic collaboration in music. However, the engagement was rudely cancelled unilaterally, with awkward and ambiguous reasons that enraged many of us. To my understanding, the decision was pressured by the brand’s headquarters in France, and if this is in fact true, I feel it deserves an explanation. I hereby urge them to clarify on the decision, to clear my name and give the public a reasonable explanation.
Should we stop self-censoring out of fear and start respecting ourselves and others based on good honest work—we could all be freer. This is what my statement is about. It is about freedom and justice. Because the reality is that if we opt to stay mute and do nothing, these would all be stripped away from us before we notice.