Mercedes-Benz removes controversial ad amid Chinese netizens' uproar
Published: Dec 28, 2021 11:02 PM
Photo: Screenshot of video from Beijing Evening News

Photo: Screenshot of video from Beijing Evening News

Carmaker Mercedes-Benz has been involved in a controversy since Monday night over an advertisement featuring a model with squint eyes after Chinese snacks retailer Three Squirrels launched a similar ad which triggered a wide debate on Chinese social media. The carmaker has not responded to the incident but it removed the controversial ad from its official Weibo account.

Mercedes-Benz's video advertisement was published on its official Weibo account on December 25, in which the company used male and female models to promote new products. However, the makeup of the female model looked like slanted eyes and once again aroused a heated discussion from netizens with many blaming that the makeup reflects Western stereotypes about Asian people.

But the controversial ad could not be found on the company's official Weibo account. 

The argument over an advertisement by Three Squirrels also ignited a heated debate and Mercedes-Benz's ad sparked a fresh wave of discussion since Monday.

The hashtag "Mercedes-Benz model's make-up is controversial" has gained over 170 million views as of Tuesday,with many saying that they are not against small eyes but the makeup on the model is annoying and offensive.

"Is there any beauty in this makeup?" one netizen wrote. "It is not over interpretation. No Chinese will think this kind of 'beauty' is attractive," another netizen added.

Many netizens mentioned that opinions should not be overstated and turn the issue into a "political trial" but the fashion world should no longer cater to Western aesthetics and should align with the aesthetics of Chinese people. 

"The premise is that Chinese cannot let the West shape our aesthetics. For those malicious slander, we should maintain sufficient vigilance and counter-attack," one netizen wrote.

The image of slanted eyes and a braid is a Western stereotype of the Chinese in the 19th century. It is not an objective description of the Chinese people but a label for East Asians based on the Western sense of ideological superiority, experts said.

It's not the first time netizens are ignited by the moves to cater Western stereotypes of Chinese people. French fashion brand Dior used a photo by Chinese photographer Chen Man, in an ad that shows a model with spooky eyelids and dark skin dressed in a traditional Chinese dress while holding a Dior bag. 

The characters in the animated film I Am What I Am have been accused of vilifying the Chinese people. The characters' slanted eyes have stirred an online controversy over Western stereotypes on Chinese.