The advert by Dolce and Gabbana was that they released a series of video ads that featured a model that used chopsticks and was struggling to eat different kinds of Italian food. Advertisements are delicate views from the public where a company may choose to build on its name or destroy it in the process. Generally, ads need to be appealing to the target audience, and they should not cause any controversy whatsoever. The headlines need to catch the attention of the viewer, the use of powerful images should be an asset, and it needs to call to action to the unique advantage of the viewers.
China has so far been known for persistent rural poverty. However, it is also evident to say that China is a country of new wealth as well as ancient traditions from the citizens. In this case, international brands may not be in line with these aspects as they seek to make money off China; hence they end up going awry and pissing off the audiences they are supposed to attract.
It was in the mid-November that the company Dolce & Gabbana which is an Italian luxury fashion brand launched three short videos to be aired on the Chinese social media network Weibo. It was in order to promote the upcoming Shanghai runway extravaganza that was dubbed as "The Great Show" to begin in late November (Editor, 2018). The advertisement met some of the salient features in that it was simple, suggestive, having the conviction value and was captivating to the people as it was to be the case. However, they went all wrong in the entire display and was not of benefit to the viewers.
In the videos, the directors featured an Asian woman in a lavish dress obtained from Dolce & Gabbana who was attempting to eat pizza, spaghetti, and cannoli using chopsticks. In the background, there was some Chinese folk music playing and at that time, a voiceover of a Mandarin-speaking kick in where he says, "Welcome to the first episode of Eating with chopsticks by Dolce & Gabbana (Editor, 2018). The most controversial thing about the topic is that the pronunciation was incorrect and this was viewed as a way to mock the Chinese speech. It is clear that the directors of these videos did not take into keen concern the intentions of the viewers and the content creation they would like portrayed on social media sites.
The male voice continues to give some instructions to what they refer as "how to eat these dishes with the chopsticks properly." He says that "is it too big for you" which comes out as a mock to the voiceover in the case where it is seen that the woman has no clue on what to do with the gigantic cannoli. In another video, he continues to instruct that "Let's use these small stick-like things to eat our excellent pizza margarita (Editor, 2018). There is a lack of ethical appeal in that they do not convince the audience of the credibility of the characters and the brand being advertised.
There is one China citizen who commented on Weibo that the advert was a kind of explicit racism and that Dolce & Gabbana were stereotyping China. This is to show that the Chinese were not impressed by the ad because these videos only showed the outdated view of the brand about China (Editor, 2018). There was a belief by some that boycotting the brand was the better way to go. It is in these kinds of circumstances that large companies lose a wide range of market share as they do not portray a positive outlook of other states. Thus, the citizens will not be interested too in the brand even if other worldwide countries treasure it the most.
There is a lack of appeal to logic in a way that the brand does not persuade the audience with enough reason using facts and figures, but they focus on the outdated version of the state. The comments from Chinese people were that if they did not kick Dolce & Gabbana out of China, they would be encouraging other foreign brands to trample over the dignity of China (Editor, 2018). It is necessary that advertisements contain logic and rational arguments in credibility to persuade the audience that the brand is the best they will get and not by mocking the culture of the state so that they figure out the reason for the brand.
The brand was forced to pull down the viral videos from the Chinese social media within twenty-four hours of uploading them. However, that was not the end of the drama. At a time when there was only left a few hours to the show, it happened that a fashion blogger shared a screenshot on social media of an alleged chat between Gabbana and an Instagram user, and it was evident that Gabbana appeared to name China as a country of "five poop emojis" and "ignorant, dirty smelling mafia".
The conversation went viral in China, and the leading hashtag was that they needed to boycott the brand. In the next two hours after the post, there were hundreds of Chinese actors and models that chose to withdraw from the runway walk during that evening. Similarly, Wang Junkai who was the Chinese brand ambassador for Dolce and Gabbana terminated his deal with the company (Editor, 2018). It was unfortunate that it would be difficult to go about the show without the actors and models as it had been scheduled. Later on, Gabbana apologized that his Instagram had been hacked and that the company had nothing but respect for China and its people.
The advertisement lacked the emotional appeal in that it did not measure up to the expectations of the Chinese people's emotions. China became an injured party, but one thing remains that the nation turns a blind eye to issues of racism. There was also another instance of a Chinese detergent commercial that featured a black man. The advert was that the main was being thrown into a washing machine and he later emerged as a Chinese man with fair skin. The advert, however, met little resistance from the Chinese audience. When there were criticisms from the foreign media about the ad, the company defended itself, but in the end, it was pulled down.
These cases clearly show that ads need to be in line with the culture of the state containing the target audience. Ads should have specific elements because nobody can guarantee a winning ad and the only way to know for sure is to test it.
Editor, Dolce & Gabbana Ad (with chopsticks) provokes public outrage in China. Radio IQ (2018). Retrieved from https://www.wvtf.org/post/dolce-gabbana-ad-chopsticks-provokes-public-outrage-china#stream/0
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