enowned German camera-maker Leica Camera is facing the wrath of Chinese netizens after a promotional video was released in its name starring a foreign reporter snapping the iconic Tank Man photo following the deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989.
The 5-minute-long video depicts courageous photographers in harrowing moments during conflicts around the globe. The main plot follows a Western journalist in a Beijing hotel who evades Chinese soldiers long enough to take the famous photo of an unidentified man facing off against a line of tanks on Chang’an Avenue.
As you might expect, the commercial, which comes less than two months ahead of the 30th anniversary of the crackdown, has not been well-received on Chinese social media. On Weibo, posts containing the word “Leica” in either English or Chinese can now not be published. Meanwhile, the company has disabled comments on its latest Weibo post.
Netizens have instead been leaving comments on older posts, some of the comments blame Leica for making trouble for “our patriotic Huawei.” Leica helps develop camera lenses for Huawei’s high-end smartphones.
Leica has responded to the controversy by denying responsibility for the video. While the commercial ends with Leica’s logo, a company spokesperson told the South China Morning Post that the ad was not officially sanctioned and Leica “must therefore distance itself from the content shown in the video and regrets any misunderstandings or false conclusions that may have been drawn,” adding that the company’s social media channels have not shared the film.
The video was apparently produced by Brazilian ad agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi which has previously produced award-winning films for Leica.
It’s worth noting that the film is not a historically accurate portrayal of how the AP’s Jeff Widener captured the Tank Man image. He also did so with a Nikon.