Chinese firm apologizes after ‘racist’ detergent ad

01:31 - Source: CNN
Outrage over shocking detergent commercial

Story highlights

Commercial has been criticized for being racist

It shows a black man undergoing a wash and transforming into a Chinese man

CNN  — 

A Chinese firm is apologizing after its racist ad went viral.

The laundry detergent advertisement depicts a light-skinned Chinese woman throwing a black man covered in paint into a washing machine after a bit of flirting. After undergoing a wash, the man emerges as a light-skinned, clean Chinese man.

Qiaobi, the company behind the ad, issued an apology – but said the international media is exaggerating the reaction.

This staggeringly offensive advert is attracting outrage on both the Chinese and wider web, with users blasting it for being racist.

The company also said it has removed traces of the ad online and hopes “that internet users and media will not continue to circulate it.”

Since being posted on YouTube by an independent person Thursday, the ad has nearly 7 million views.

Stigma and stereotypes

The ad isn’t even original. It seemingly rips off a similar, and also offensive, Italian advert, in which an slim Italian man is washed with “color” detergent and emerges a muscular black man with the slogan “Color is better.”

This wouldn’t be the first time ads in China have been accused of racial insensitivity, there was considerable criticism online after the Chinese posters for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” seemed to downplay black actor – and co-lead – John Boyega.

While a large number of Africans live in China, particularly in southern Guangdong province, many have complained of facing discrimination and prejudice from locals due in part to a widespread stigma against dark skin.

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CNN’s Yuli Yang and Shen Lu contributed to this report