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.
What Jo Malone did was entirely unacceptable! I don’t understand why they felt the need to do it in the first place. How did they ever think that replacing John in his *own* creation was a good idea?
I totally understand using a Chinese actor for the Chinese market (it’s done all the time across the world), but that was straight up plagiarism to steal his concepts and ideas and then just replace it with a different actor. Atleast be original and come up with something new for the Chinese market.
Good for John. This was pure racism. Absolutely disgusting and disrespectful. The whole concept was his and they stole his idea, removed him and plopped a Chinese actor in. They didn’t even have the decency to come up with something new when they erased his presence because he is a black man. I hope John can take them to court or something. I certainly won’t be buying anymore Jo Malone products.
I’m not sure that we should be so quick to jump to the conclusion that this is about plagiarism and racism. Who has the copyright to all creative ideas, Jo Malone or John B? There is nothing racist about replacing with local faces. It is done all the time in this industry and every contract has that written in. I just feel that that it is all about money at the end of the day. After all, producing a commercial doesn’t take place suddenly. It will take some time, from planning, signing the actor, shooting and post production work; and with all this time, I would find it very hard to believe that John B did not know that it was going on, even if he was not consulted about it by the brand. If John B had felt that he has a strong legal leg to stand on, I’m sure he would have taken legal action at the same time, instead of making this a racial discrimination issue and trial by social media. After all, the Americans is a very litigious society.
I feel sorry for both guys. What they did to Malone is entirely unacceptable, but I also love Liu Haoran, and am afraid he personally will bear the brunt of someone else’s decision with something not his fault. Lose-lose situation.
You find it hard to believe that John didn’t know about an Jo Malone was shooting in CHINA? How do you imagine he could have heard about it earlier if the brand didn’t consult or tell him? He didn’t work for them in any traditional sense, he was more like a glorified model who was given some creative freedom in how he could best advertise the product.
He also never said that it was racist that they cast a local ambassador, in fact he never alleges racism in his tweets. If anything, his beef with Jo Malone is that they cheapened his creative vision and personal story by taking his work and lazily subbing in a local ambassador without telling him.
He’s implied that he’s taking more action but either way, just because something is technically legal doesn’t make it right 🙂
@Ash John Boyega is English, not American. Inform yourself first before opening your mouth.
The British are not shy about litigation either. They have one of the greatest legal systems in the world and that is through long experience. And why shouldn’t I open my mouth if you can open your mouth just to be rude at others? I wasn’t even rude at anyone. I can have an opinion too, can’t I? All I said was that we shouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions. What is wrong with that? Every story has got more than one side. I always believe in listening to all sides before condemnation starts. And yes, his statement did hint on racial undertones when he talked about the company “dismissively trading out out one’s culture ..” And even if he didn’t actually used explicit words, it has already turned into a race thing. A great number of the comments on social media have jumped to accusations of racial discrimination (even one on this site) and theft. And yes, I do find it hard to believe that he didn’t know about it earlier before the advert came out. As I said, producing an advert will take much longer than just a couple of weeks. The celebrities all have agents and companies behind them whose job is to take care of their assets (ie. the celebrity).
@ash and Jo Malone has apologized, means they know they were wrong. I could understand if John hinted a race thing, Jo Malone changed his cf to chinese’s version, why??? Then we know who the racist one is.
Since it filmed in China, John probably had no idea. The team of Jo Malone didnt inform him first, then, you think he has the six sense whatsoever to know everything?
But then, Liu Haoran is so handsome. It’s better if they let him produce his own idea.
This is the first time I saw both ad. I have to say John Boyega’s ad gave me goosebumps. There is truly something magical, genius, and genuine about it. As for the one with Liu Haoran’s, it’s a mehhh. This is definitely Jo Malone at fault. If you are arguing for them, then you should definitely do better because you obviously can’t see the problem and are part of the problem.
I support John Boyega wholeheartedly