British perfume and candle maker Jo Malone London is in the hot seat this week after Star Wars actor John Boyega called them out for replacing him entirely with Chinese star Liu Haoran (Detective Chinatown) in an original video he conceptualized no less for the brand’s adverts in China. Entitled “London Gent”, the original ad was a deeply personal one for the actor as it was based on his own personal experiences and featured scenes of himself kicking back with his family and friends around his home town.
Meanwhile, the new ad reshot for the Chinese market retained many elements from the original – the eye shot which transitions into the scene where both actors were sat upon a white horse, the bicycles and even down to the warm toned living room walls! … Except anything with John Boyega in it was replaced by the brand with Liu Haoran and any references to his family and friends were also cut.
While it’s understandable that brands need to tweak some of their ads based on its target audience, a need John also acknowledged by saying “while many brands understandably use a variety of global and local ambassadors, dismissively trading out one’s culture this way is not something I can condone”, what’s unacceptable is the way the brand went about the entire thing.
Heck if they really wanted it to be completely authentic to the market, why not create one and ask Liu Haoran to conceptualise something with his own personal story as inspiration. That will surely resonate more wouldn’t it?
Jo Malone has since moved to quickly apologise to John for the offense their massive misstep has taken and has already pulled the ad from the Chinese market.