Criticisms are still pouring in over Burberry’s advertising campaign fronted by Chinese actresses Zhao Wei and Zhou Dongyu celebrating ‘togetherness’ to usher in Chinese New Year. The photos of the campaign have been described as “creepy” by Chinese news portal Jing Daily and ridiculed for looking like a “horror movie”.
Titled Modern Tradition, the campaign features photographs by esteemed photographer Ethan James Green, who shot the celebrities alongside models posing in what would appear a grim family portrait. The British luxury giant wanted to convey a sense of togetherness, “gathering the cross generations of family for a season celebration”, with personalities and models dressed up in the brand's classic pieces, urban staples and iconic trench coats.
The festive message, however, was lost on some netizens. A user commented on Burberry’s Weibo page: “Am I the only one to say pulling a long face does not go well with Chinese New Year?”
Another suggested that the pictures were reminiscent of China’s economy, posting “Unhappy family, unhappy Burberry. No one is looking normal.”
But some also applauded the brand for its take on the Chinese festival.
“Burberry Chinese New Year’s return to tradition is timeless,” wrote one user.
Another Weibo commentor said that she was “sick of seeing a happy Chinese New Year”.
This isn’t the first time a Western luxury brand has caused controversy in China. Dolce & Gabbana cancelled a fashion show in Shanghai after their ‘Eating With Chopsticks’ video series was labelled racist.
According to CNBC, Burberry is in the middle of repositioning as a “higher’ luxury label – a move initiated by Chief Executive Marco Gobbetti after he took on the role in 2017 – so the brand can charge more for its clothes and accessories. Chinese New Year is a crucial opportunity for luxury brands to bump up retail sales but netizens are clearly showing more interest in mocking these images instead.