New Balenciaga ad, 'an insult to tastes of Chinese people'

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/11 14:53:40

One of the controversial promotional images Photo: screenshot of the website of the offical Balenciaga Tmall store

French fashion brand Balenciaga launched a new series of bags for Chinese Valentines' Day on August 25, but the promotional images for the limited series has not received a warm welcome from Chinese netizens as expected. Instead, it angered thousands who post online saying they feel the photos are behind the times and just a perfunctory effort on behalf of the brand.

The hashtag "Balenciaga's advertisement unattractive" broke into the hot search chart on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Tuesday as hundreds of netizens condemned the brand for just going through the motions and not considering the tastes of Chinese consumers.

In one of the promotional photos, a man can be seen giving one of the red limited series bags to a woman. The couple are standing in front of what is clearly just a photo of a waterfall, while several flowers and hearts have been pasted into the foreground. The same woman also appears in photos where purple is the main color. 

"All these photos seem like works shot by photography studios in rural areas during the 1990s. They are completely behind the times," netizen "bagezhuanyong" commented on Sina Weibo.

Some netizens said the promotion left them wondering if the brand was deliberately trying to insult the tastes of Chinese people. 

"Do Balenciaga's designers think Chinese people love this out-of-date style? Or do they think that no matter what they design, we will buy it anyway," another netizen wrote.

The negativity around the promotion caused some netizens to recall a previous controversy in which Balenciaga discriminated against Chinese customers.

In April 2018, WeChat user Paizhao Zhuli posted a video showing a Balenciaga salesclerk in a Printemps store in Paris insulting Chinese customers who were lining up to enter the store, telling them to get out and never return to buy shoes.

According to the blogger, the bizarre incident erupted after a Chinese woman criticized five foreigners for cutting in line and one of the line cutters pushed the woman away and threatened to punch her. Her son quickly jumped to her defense and was beaten to the ground by the group.

In the four-second video that circulated on Chinese social media and YouTube, a security guard can be seen dragging the son away as he is being beaten. 

According to a report from the Xinhua News Agency, the mother and her son were told to leave, while the line-cutters were allowed into the store.

One Sina Weibo user posted a commercial promoting Balenciaga perfume in which US actress Kristen Stewart appears as a spokesperson. In a post along with the video, the poster wrote that the difference in quality between the two promotions makes the brand's sincerity even more suspect. 


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