The ad, produced by Chinese cotton brand Purcotton, shows a woman walking down a dimly lit street at night, followed by a masked man. As the man begins to approach her, the woman is shown using a Purcotton towel to remove her makeup, seemingly terrifying her potential attacker and making him flee.
Although it is not clear when the ad was first launched, social media users in China took advantage of the short video, condemning its apparent accusation of victimhood and calling it “disgusting” and “wrong.” Some even called for a boycott of the company’s products.
“You use what scares women the most for advertising that is incomprehensible and unacceptable,”
China Women News, a website run by the government-affiliated All-China Federation of Women, condemned the ad on their social media for “demonizing the victim.”
“(He) is full of prejudice, malice and ignorance. Women are consumers, not consumer goods. Inevitably, ‘creative’ ads that offend women are criticized by the public,” the social media post said.
Purcotton, which is owned by Winner Medical Group, has more than 240 stores in China and about 20 million customers, according to the company’s website.
Purcotton initially defended the ad as a creative way to advertise the “cleansing function of the product,” but with growing calls for a boycott, the company removed the video from its accounts and eventually apologized on Jan. 8.
“We have created a team to hold people accountable for the problem, and in the meantime we will improve the content production and review process to prevent a recurrence of such incidents,” the company said in a statement. Purcotton posted a second apology letter to his Weibo account on Monday.
This is not the first time a Chinese company has been forced to apologize for accusations of sexism.