Hong Leong Group’s ‘racist’ advert, featuring a man in ‘blackface’, has been made ‘private’ on YouTube after Hong Wrong invited readers to share their thoughts with the bank. The advert is presumably still running on ‘Roadshow’ bus TV channels though campaign material has been removed from their website. After two days of requests from the blog, the bank has yet to respond but gave a fallacious ‘non-apology apology‘ to a netizen saying it ‘regrets‘ customers took offence.
Outraged netizens have flooded the company’s social media pages with comments, with some asking why they couldn’t have simply hired a Filipino or Indonesian actor.
The story has since been featured on The Shanghaiist, Yahoo, South China Morning Post, Channel News Asia, Rappler and the Inquirer. It comes two weeks after a similar fallout over a local primary school textbook.
As of Wednesday morning, despite assurances, the advert is still showing on Hong Kong public transport TV screens…
Eni Lestari, spokesperson for Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body said that Hong Leong should apologise, telling AFP that they were “making comedy out of someone, out of a community… For [Hong Kong residents] it’s funny, but what they don’t realise is what’s funny is actually racist.”
Whilst ‘blackface’ bears little significance in Chinese culture, the practice remains taboo in western countries. Once popular in 19th and early 20th century theatre, changing attitudes in Europe and the civil rights movement in the US effectively wiped the practice out. ‘Minstrel’ shows and the idea of the dancing ‘dandified coon’ were said to reinforce a stereotyped caricature of black people.
In the 80s, Colgate, owner of ‘Darlie’ toothpaste, were forced to change the name of their local toothpaste range, which was once called ‘Darkie’. The company initially resisted public pressure to alter the brand after it bought out the original owners, Hawley & Hazel Group.
Sparked by the recent textbook controversy, Al-Jazeera’s ‘The Stream’ recently debated multiculturalism and discrimination in Hong Kong in a 30-minute special programme. (Hong Wrong is featured at the 27-minute mark).
As the insurance advert has now been removed, Hong Wrong has taken the liberty of preserving a copy of the insurance advert for posterity…