Chinese Detergent Ad Leads to Global Media Outcry Critical Incident

Chinese Detergent Ad Leads to Global Media Outcry

Karen A. Berger, Pace University
January 8, 2020
Africa, Asia - Pacific, Europe, Latin & South America, North America
Marketing & Sales
3 pages
international marketing, cultural values, cultural attitudes, world-mindedness, racism
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.75)
Average rating: 

An ad for Qiaobi laundry gel balls sparked outrage in media all over the globe including Australia, New Zealand, France, Hong Kong, the U.K., and the United States. Four months after its launch in China, the ad suddenly went viral around the world (Mazza, 2016). The ad featured a young black man flirting with a young, light-skinned Asian woman. He tried to kiss her, but instead she popped a laundry detergent pod into his mouth and pushed him into the washer. He emerged a pale skinned Asian man much to her delight. Xu Chunyan, as spokesperson for Qiaobi, grappled with the problem facing the company. Why did this ad provoke such outrage? What should Qiaobi’s response be? This critical incident introduces the student to notions of cultural beliefs and attitudes in the global world of the 21st century.

Learning Outcomes: 

After reading this critical incident, students should be able to:
1. Examine an international ad in terms of its values and attitudes
2. Explain how the appeal of an ad can have racial implications and connotations
3. Analyze issues associated with cultural beliefs and attitudes reflected in advertising in a global vs. local setting
4. Recommend actions that need to be made when a company becomes involved in a global media storm

The critical incident is most appropriate for courses in international marketing, international advertising and promotion, consumer behavior, marketing management, and marketing ethics.