Mercedes-Benz pulls Chinese ‘slanted eyes’ ad after backlash

Automaker accused of perpetuating harmful stereotypes about Asians

German carmaker Mercedes-Benz has been denounced on Chinese social media over an advert many say perpetrates Asian stereotypes. Mercedes has removed the ad in the country, which happens to be the world’s largest automobile market.

The fury erupted because makeup on the models’ faces “reflects Western stereotypes about Asian people,” China’s state-run Global Times reported, stressing that Mercedes had used the image of a Chinese person with “slanted eyes” and braids.

“The makeup of the female model looked like slanted eyes and once again aroused a heated discussion from netizens, with many saying that the makeup reflects Western stereotypes about Asian people,” the paper said.

The video, published on Weibo on December 25, was reportedly deleted in the wake of the backlash. However, the automaker has so far not released a statement in relation to the matter.

Mercedes-Benz became the latest globally known brand to fall into disfavor among Chinese internet users. In November, French fashion house Christian Dior drew their ire after the state media said that a photo of a model displayed in an art exhibition was “smearing Asian women.”

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Along with Mercedes, local snack brand Three Squirrels was also caught up in the fray this week. The company had to apologize for ads featuring model Cai Niang Niang wearing makeup that accentuated the slant of her eyes, the South China Morning Post reported earlier this week.

Earlier this year, Chinese online commenters lashed out at such international brands as H&M and Nike. In 2019, Zara was accused of ‘uglifying’ China after using a model with freckles. One of the most prominent cases to date involved Dolce & Gabbana, which most recently faced a $660-million defamation lawsuit over a 2018 ad that was deemed racist.

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