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5 Commercials That The Chinese Found Highly Offensive

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

The 2016 racist Chinese detergent commercial took the internet by storm and angered people worldwide.

While their unmatched economic growth over the last three decades and the means adopted by them to attain that growth have undoubtedly earned them a few staunch critics, such commercials have also played a significant role in the resentment that some people harbor against the Chinese.

However, there have been instances in the past when the Chinese audiences felt slighted by brands or didn’t appreciate the kind of content that was dished out to the audiences. Now considering the sheer size of the Chinese market, no brand in their right mind would want to anger such a huge market segment. But that has happened, not one, not twice, but multiple times in the past.

So, here we are with 5 commercials that greatly anguished the Chinese.

1. Dolce & Gabbana: Chopstick Ad

In November 2018, the geniuses at Dolce & Gabbana’s marketing team thought that it would be a great idea to mock the Chinese culture with this nonsensical commercial.

The commercial shows an Asian woman in a lavish Dolce & Gabbana dress trying to eat pizza, spaghetti, and cannoli- with chopsticks! A Mandarin-speaking voiceover kicks in, purposefully pronouncing everything incorrectly to mock the Chinese speech.

As expected, the Chinese viewers took great umbrage at this and decided to boycott the brand to safeguard their dignity.

The result- Dolce & Gabbana removed the videos from Chinese social media within 24 hours of posting them,

2. Purcotton: Sexual Assault Ad

How do you make sure that your target segment swears to keep their hands off your product? Well, by coming up with something like this!

Chinese brand Purcotton came up with this ad to promote make-up removal wipes. In the process, the company ended up making fun of sexual assault cases. The ad features a young woman being stalked by a man. Afraid, she takes out a pack of Purcotton wipes and uses them to remove her makeup. When the man taps her on her shoulder, the woman is magically transformed into a man.

This was done to elicit laughter from the audience. Instead, the viewers called for boycotting the product and brand, which forced the brand to not only issue an apology but also remove the video from its social media accounts.

3. McDonald’s: Independent Taiwan Ad

China has always been touchy about its sovereignty like most nations. Therefore, when the fast-food brand released a commercial that showed Taiwan as a country, the Chinese didn’t like it at all.

The ad included a two-second clip of a student ID card that showed Taiwan as a country. This led to a furor in China and people straightaway started questioning McDonald’s about its stance on the One-China policy.

McDonald’s soon issued an apology and reaffirmed its commitment to the One-China policy and its regard for Chinese territorial sovereignty.

4. Mercedes Benz: Squint Eye Chinese Model

Last year, Mercedes-Benz came up with a commercial that greatly outraged the Chinese because it featured a model whose slanted eyes “reflected Western stereotypes about Asian people”.

Dear Chinese, the woman was born with slanted eyes, she can’t do anything about it. So, please stop taking offense every time you see a person with slanted eyes on the TV!

5. Audi: Women and Used Cars

The creative minds behind this commercial were possibly high on something when they decided to cook up this sexist ad that compared a bride to a used car!

The ad was aimed at proper inspection of pre-owned cars before buying them. While the message in the ad is clear, it is shown in a highly sexist and offensive way comparing a woman to a used car. When the ad went live, a number of people understandably slammed the company on Weibo.

Bottom Line

Whether you like them or not, the Chinese hold big sway in today’s world and no brand would want to rub them the wrong way. With almost one-fifth of the world’s population, China is a market that every brand would want to tap onto and always want to remain in their good books. Hopefully, the brands mentioned in this blog would learn from their mistakes, as would others reading it.

We’ll be back with more commercials for you. Till then, stay tuned!


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