Confusion as Cartier ad message rings hollow

World | 14 Aug 2020

French brand Cartier is being mocked online in China over a Valentine-themed ad that appears to show a gay couple but who are described as depicting "father-son" love.

Cartier posted a video on Weibo promoting its Trinity ring, described as representing the "bond of love" ahead of the Qixi Festival - one of China's Valentine's Day equivalents.

The video shows people laughing and embracing, including a man and a woman holding hands, two women lying on the ground together, and two young men riding bicycles while wearing matching rings.

An English tagline asks: "How far would you go for love?"

Many people saw the video as showing heterosexual, gay and lesbian couples.

A user on Weibo said "I feel like this supports LGBT." Hundreds responded with messages of praise.

But a caption published by Cartier's online store on Alibaba's Tmall platform under a photo of the two men set off ridicule, especially as the pair are a similar age.

The caption "father and son, bound by love, enjoying life's journey," was inconsistent with the romantic picture, users on online forum Douban agreed.

Online content in China, especially depicting LGBT people, is subject to often arbitrarily applied censorship.

But Cartier's apparent caution has backfired.

As a Douban user noted: "Gay love has been turned into incest."

Cartier is the latest foreign brand to see a marketing campaign in China go awry.

Versace, Coach and Givenchy all apologized last year for perceived affronts to China's sovereignty with T-shirts listing Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate countries. And Dolce & Gabbana faced a boycott in 2018 over racially offensive posts.


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