Social media

Mercedes withdraws Chinese social media ad after backlash against model’s eyes

Mercedes-Benz removed a video ad from a Chinese social media website, state media said, after the clip was swept up in a heated nationwide debate over companies’ portrayals of Asian-looking features foreigners.

The video was posted to Mercedes-Benz’s official Weibo account on Saturday and later removed due to public backlash, the of the communist party World time said the newspaper. “The female model’s makeup looked like slanted eyes and once again sparked heated discussion from netizens, with many accusing the makeup of reflecting Western stereotypes about Asians,” the newspaper said on Tuesday.

The report included a screenshot from the video showing a woman who is apparently Chinese, although Bloomberg News did not see the full version of the ad. Emails and phone calls from Martin Sauber and Juan Zhou, Daimler’s Chinese press representatives, were not immediately returned.

The episode makes Mercedes-Benz the latest target of consumer nationalism in China that has in the past dealt a blow to Dolce & Gabbana, Hennes & Mauritz and others. Last week, Chinese social media platforms erupted over allegations that Walmart Inc. had stopped selling Xinjiang items at its Sam’s Club grocery stores in the Asian nation. Christian Dior stopped using the photo of a model in November that state media said “dirty Asian women.”

Chinese netizens have recently been debating how model eyes are shown in advertising. Chinese company Three Squirrels Inc. recently apologized for ads featuring model Cai Niang Niang wearing makeup that accentuated the tilt of her eyes, the South China Morning Post reported.

The model hit back on the Twitter-like Weibo service, saying, “With small eyes, am I not Chinese? I totally agree with patriotism. However, creating big problems with normal things has become a morbid obsession. “

Daimler announced last week that it would reduce its stake in electric-car joint venture Denza with Chinese company BYD Auto Industry Co. after years of weak sales. BYD will own 90 percent of the company and Daimler 10 percent after a capital transfer the companies plan to complete in mid-2022, automaker Mercedes-Benz said.

The joint venture was launched in March 2012. Its low profitability has concerned Daimler for years, even as sales of its luxury Mercedes vehicles have continued to increase in China.