Stereotyping of the Chinese in the media

September 24, 2013 3:43 PM
By Simon Woolley

Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote alerted Chinese Liberal Democrats to Cadbury's latest advert "Unwrap Gold". His article posted on OBV website and blog is extracted below:

Cadbury Ad Unwrap Gold"It is just over two years since Cadbury's chocolate apologised to supermodel Naomi Campbell for likening her to a chocolate bar. Senior personnel at the time assured their customers and OBV, -we took up Campbell's complaint,- that their advertising would be more respectful to Black and minority communities.

Fast forward two years and their autumn's major ad campaign 'Unwrap Gold', portrays the lead character as a Chinese shop keeper with exaggerated poor English , acting in a vaudeville/clownish manner. It might be unfair to call the representation of the shopkeeper racist, but it is without doubt demeaning, pejorative and above all disrespectful to Chinese people here in the UK.

Merlene Emerson from Chinese Lib Dems stated:

My first reaction when I saw this ad was that it was simply a crass joke. But if only it were simply a joke. We all know about the effect of subliminal messaging and of unconscious bias. Ads such as this simply perpetuate the crude stereotype of Chinese as cartoon characters who can't speak English."

She also added,

Recently the Chinese community had to endure another terrible depiction of ourselves in the BBC documentary 'The Woman who woke up Chinese', which was about a woman who had a speech impediment and said 'flied lice'. Isn't time all this nonsense stopped!"

Sad truth is that with the exception of the fashion guru Gok Wan, Chinese people are almost invisible from our screens. And whilst Chinese children are doing extremely well at school, at Universities, and are obtaining professional jobs, the portrayal of Chinese people is too often reduced to ridicule. When was the last time you saw an ordinary Chinese family on TV, much less playing a normal role in an advert?

Once again a small army of advertising creatives and executives, along with Cadbury's own executives failed to ask the simple question: is this a demeaning caricature of a Chinese man? If they asked this question, the ad in its present form would not be on our screens.

Shame on Cadbury's."

You can watch the youtube clip of Cadbury's ad here and decide for yourself whether it is worthy of a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency :