Jan 7, 2019
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Burberry ad criticised in China for lack of festive cheer

Jan 7, 2019

At a time when luxury giants are targeting global consumers and having to navigate local sensibilities, the impact of their understandable caution on their marketing campaigns is causing some advertising concepts to backfire.


In trying to follow a culturally sensitive path, they can sometimes go off course and some Chinese internet users seem to think Burberry has gone wrong with its Lunar New Year campaign, saying it’s creepy and not happy enough.

The UK luxury giant released the campaign last week and looked like it was doing everything it could to steer clear of any controversy.  That’s particularly important following the Dolce & Gabbana China scandal and the damage that the wrong marketing approach caused to the Italian brand in that country.

Burberry used actresses Zhao Wei and Zhou Dongyu, among others, to focus on "togetherness" and the family but a specific image from the shoot by Ethan James Green has come in for criticism.

The two actresses and other models are posed in a family group alongside the message “Introducing our new collection, curated for #BurberryChineseNewYear.”

Perhaps it’s part of the fashion sector’s big problem with anyone looking too happy (just check out the average designer runway during catwalk season), but the lack of festive cheer is quite striking in the sombre group and some Chinese ‘netizens’ aren’t pleased.

Some social media users called the picture “creepy” and “like a horror movie” with another on the brand’s Weibo page saying "am I the only one to say pulling a long face does not go well with the Chinese New Year?”

But others praised the fact that the brand has embraced a Chinese tradition, with New Year family photos being a popular choice in the country, and some also giving a thumbs-up to the brand for not trying to portray faux happiness.

Regardless of whether the reactions have been positive or not, the campaign has certainly achieved the aim of getting consumers (and the media) talking about the brand. And at least Burberry has also avoided being seen as disrespecting the country and its consumers, so it won’t face a brand-damaging D&G-type protest wave.

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