Posted on May 27, 2016

Race Row over Chinese Detergent Advert

Ashley Collman, Daily Mail, May 26, 2016

A Chinese laundry detergent company is under fire over a new commercial which many have interpreted as racist.

The new commercial for laundry detergent brand Qiaobi shows a Chinese woman shoving a black man into her washing machine with one of the company’s detergent pods and the man emerging as a light-skinned Chinese man.

The commercial reportedly started airing this month in China on TV and at Wanda Theaters and quickly spread online.

The shocking commercial begins with a Chinese woman walking up to her washing machine to start a load of laundry, when a dark-skinned African laborer holding a paint brush and wearing a stained white shirt enters the room and whistles at her in a flirtatious fashion.

The Chinese woman motions for him to come closer and the black man approaches as if to to kiss the woman. But at the last second, she feeds him a laundry pod and then shoves him head first into the washing machine.

She then slams the top of the washing machine shut and starts the cycle, jumping up on the appliance with a smile on her face as the man screams and groans from inside.

When the cycle ends, the woman opens the top of the machine and a cleaner, light-skinned, Chinese man emerges to her delight.

The commercial ends with the ‘improved’ man holding up one of the laundry pods and a picture of the detergent box appearing on the screen.

As the Shanghaiist points out, this commercial is reflective of Chinese ideals for white skin.

‘Thanks to traditional beauty standards valuing white skin, many Chinese people have a well-established phobia of dark skin which unfortunately also breeds racist attitudes towards people of African descent, who are viewed by some as “dirty” simply because of their skin tone,’ the website wrote.

It has also been pointed out that the commercial appears to be a rip-off of an Italian commercial from 2007, that was also for a detergent company.

The difference though is that the Italian commercial showed a white woman being turned into a black man with the tagline of ‘Coloured is better’.

Another example of this has been the promotion of the new Star Wards film. While black actor John Boyega is prominent in the American movie posters for the film, he has been edited to take up much less space, in the Chinese version of the poster.