Chinese detergent ad showing black man being ‘washed whiter’ leads to firestorm on social media

twitter by dw_business

ALTHOUGH a recent Chinese detergent ad has been labelled by many as ‘the most racist ever’, representatives from the brand have chosen to stand behind the controversial campaign, even as it continues to be lambasted and dissected across the internet and social media.

In the ad in question, a woman rubs Qiaobi cleaning liquid onto the face of a black man, who is then loaded into a washing machine which is given a good spin. The man screams as he goes through the wash cycle, until the woman opens the machine and a lighter-skinned Asian man pops out. He winks at the camera as the company’s slogan flashes up on the screen: Change begins with Qiaobi.

Stunningly, the spot had already been airing for months without creating much of a stir, until eventually an English-language website began to speak out against the possible underlying message of racism and questionable content of the ad. The website posted a link to the ad which has since gone viral.

A spokesman for Leishang cosmetics company, which produces the detergent, argued that people were being oversensitive. The man, named only Wang, said: “We meant nothing to promote the product, and we had never thought about the issue of racism.”

Meanwhile, Xu Chunyan, an agent for the company, was more upfront about the company’s motivations. He fully admitted that the intention was to leave an impression by going against the grain. “If we just show laundry like all the other advertisements, ours will not stand out,” he stated.

The ad has prompted widespread criticism of Chinese culture, with many of its detractors arguing that it is yet another example of the lack of public discourse over the issue of race in a country that is oft-regarded as insular and homogeneous.  

Among examples cited is a best-selling Chinese toothpaste still called “Black Man Toothpaste”, two decades after its English name was changed from Darkie to Darlie. 


  1. Who cares? I thought it was funny. “until eventually an English-language website began to speak out against the possible underlying message” … Ah the professionally offended chattering classes of Britanistan. No surprise there then.


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