Oh boy. When we first said “T-shirt gate” yesterday, we didn’t think it would be quite so prophetic. Yang Mi terminated her contract with Versace. Liu Wen and Jackson Yee pulled the plug on their Coach and Givenchy endorsements. But now, the movement seems to have taken a life of its own as more big brands are finding themselves in hot water for their descriptions of Chinese territory.
We’re not just talking about t-shirts anymore as netizens have also taken to examining the ‘Find by country’ dropdowns of foreign brand’s websites! As you know, international brands traditionally categorise their websites (and products) geographically. Under Asia, some brands were found to have listed Hong Kong, Macau (sometimes) and Taiwan as separate from China under the country dropdown.
Several brands have already received the “red card” so to speak from stars who used to represent them, amongst which, Austrian crystal brand Swarovski who got the boot from its Chinese celebrity endorser Maggie Jiang Shuying, Japanese sports brand Asics who lost Elvis Han Dongjun and Song Weilong.
Almost dragged into the fray was American brand Fresh which still has Roy Wang Yuan as their endorser. Some questioned the flag they used on their site. The brand has apologized for any misunderstanding caused by their country (region) category which they have sent to fix at first instance. Nonetheless, some defended the brand as they had been using the flag for Hong Kong SAR.
American apparel brand Calvin Klein whose newest female endorser Lin Yun terminated their collab a mere day after being announced as brand ambassador. Interestingly enough, Zhang Yixing continued to keep his CK ambassadorship, a move that probably put him in an awkward bind, now that Lin Yun decided to end her contract with the company. The actor and his team has previously expressed that they will do a thorough review of all of their endorsements and upon investigation, have chosen to cut ties with the South Korean brand Samsung.
All of the brands mentioned above except Samsung have already issued apologies and have reasserted their support for Chinese sovereignty.