Jo Malone London apologises to John Boyega over Chinese ad
Sep 14, 2020
Jo Malone London has ridden into a storm after cutting brand ambassador John Boyega out of an ad campaign shown in China.
The company replaced him with Liu Haoran and reshot an existing ad for the Chinese market. On the surface, that could be said to be a logical localisation of the campaign for China. But the fact that Boyega conceived and directed the original ad and that the original multicultural cast was transformed to feature no black cast members for the Chinese version, has come in for understandably heavy criticism.
The Estée Lauder-owned perfumery brand has now apologised to Boyega about the London Gent ad that had aired last year and had been all about Boyega walking around London’s Peckham, riding a horse, dancing and hanging out with friends and family.
“We deeply apologise for what on our end was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign,” it said in a statement given to Hollywood Reporter. “John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.”
The company has removed the Chinese version of the campaign and said it recognised the offence that was caused. It added that “we are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward.”
Boyega, who was named male global ambassador for the beauty brand last year, said the advert was deeply personal. Reportedly, he hadn’t known about the recasting.
It's not the first time that the colour of his skin has seen him being downplayed in marketing campaigns. The decision to replace him for the Chinese market follows a 2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Chinese poster in which his character was made less prominent than in the original poster.
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