Dolce & Gabbana 'Sh*t Country' Storm Triggers Protest in Shanghai
28 November, 2018, 14:02 | Author: Gerard Cortez
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Zhang Ziyi said that she would also boycott the brand.
The Milan-based brand had posted an ad showing a Chinese model struggling to eat Italian food with chopsticks, which consumers deemed condescending.
The Italian fashion house quickly issued a statement apologising and saying the accounts as well as that of its namesake designer Stefano Gabbana had been hacked, but it did little to calm a brewing social media uproar in China.
In a statemnet, on Instagram, the brand claimed, "Our Instagram account has been hacked".
An airport duty fee shop in the southern Chinese city of Haikou said on Weibo it had removed all Dolce & Gabbana products from its shelves.
Dolce & Gabbana cancelled "The Great Show", originally scheduled to be held last night in Shanghai, hours before it was scheduled to begin.
She also posted the following image, which translates to "you dropped your shit, I'm returning it to you", according to Shanghaiist.
It is not the first time Dolce & Gabbana has drawn fire in China.
According to consultancy McKinsey & Co., Chinese spent 500 billion yuan ($72 billion) on luxury products previous year, accounting for a third of the world's spending. Just like Apple and The Gap after controversies in the past, it has been quick to apologise, with Gabbana contending in his post "I love China and the Chinese culture". Stefano Gabbana has been on a much-needed social media cleanse (up until November 2nd), so maybe he kept himself busy by meddling with the marketing department for this series. Now the founders are apologizing if people misunderstood the way they expressed themselves.
Bloomberg reports that Chinese online retailers Yangmatou and Kaola have removed D&G products from their sites, while search results for the brand on JD.com and Alibaba's Tmall come up empty. They featured traditional Chinese music and a suggestive voiceover from a male narrator, who asks the actress trying to eat the cannoli: "Is it too big for you?" The videos were published on D&G's Facebook, Weibo, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
In September, Tommy Hilfiger brought its #TommyNow extravaganza to Shanghai; in December, Coach is planning its 15th anniversary pre-fall show in Shanghai's picturesque Bund area, demonstrating that the brands want to cater increasingly to local tastes. Both companies didn't respond to requests for comment.
The situation highlights some of the challenges worldwide brands face as they try to market to Chinese shoppers and do more business in the country. "China is rich yes but China is rich in its values, its culture and its people and they won't spend a penny on a brand that does not respect that", Chen wrote. Many in China called them racist and full of outdated stereotypes. The message added: "China ignorant dirty smelling mafia".
Owing to its size, China is indeed a big market to lose for any brand by given its intricacies it can also be a tricky market to manage.
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