Oh boy, who wants to unpack all the ways in which this ad for Qiaobi laundry detergent is deeply, profoundly awful?
The commercial, which has reportedly aired on Chinese television and in cinemas, depicts a Chinese woman turning a black man into a Chinese man through the power of laundry soap. The ad begins with the woman doing laundry, when a black man (presumably her boyfriend? Or, gulp, the help?) shows up covered in paint.
The woman coaxes him toward the laundry machine, at which point she forces him in, and he emerges as a Chinese man. The commercial apparently ends with the slogan “Change begins with Qiaobi.”
The ad appears to be a remake—down to the music—of an Italian ad from about nine years ago, in which the woman doing laundry throws her Italian boyfriend in the wash and a black man emerges to the tagline “Coloured is better.” Which is…not without its own issues!
Everyone please stop making this ad now, thank you.
Update 11:25am CT, May 30: Qiaobi has responded to the ad’s criticism by saying, via USA Today, there was “no intention of discriminating against people of color” but also said the foreign media were being “too sensitive” about the commercial.
“The color of one’s skin is not the standard by which we should judge each other. We strongly oppose and condemn racial discrimination,” Qiaobi said in a statement released on its Weibo account.
More from the statement: “We regret that our advertisement led to controversy and have no intention of shirking our responsibility. The advertisement and the surrounding controversy have hurt those of African descent, and because of this we would like to apologize.”
But the company also wrote that it hopes the media “will not continue to over-analyze the situation.”