November 22, 2018 / 10:46 AM / 24 days ago

Chinese e-commerce sites ditch Dolce & Gabbana in ad backlash

BEIJING, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Chinese e-commerce sites have removed Dolce & Gabbana products amid a spiralling backlash following a series of ads that were condemned as “racist” by celebrities and on social media.

NetEase Inc e-commerce platform Kaola confirmed it had removed Dolce & Gabbana products while luxury goods retailer Secoo said it removed the brand’s listings on Wednesday evening.

Checks done by Reuters on Thursday morning showed pages that previously linked to Dolce & Gabbana products on the e-commerce sites hosted by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and JD.com Inc were no longer available and searches for the brand returned no products.

Alibaba and JD.com did not respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this week, the brand released a series of adverts in which a Chinese woman struggles to eat pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks, sparking criticism on social media.

The blunder was compounded when screenshots were circulated online that appeared to show Dolce & Gabbana designer Stefano Gabbana making negative remarks about China.

The topic quickly went viral on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, with over 120 million views. The brand cancelled a fashion show in Shanghai on Wednesday following the backlash.

The company later apologised in a statement on Weibo, saying both Gabbana’s and the brand’s accounts had been hacked.

The company did not respond to requests for comment on the e-commerce listings.

Celebrities including “Memoirs of a Geisha” movie star Zhang Ziyi criticised the brand, while singer Wang Junkai said he had terminated an agreement to be the brand’s ambassador.

The uproar against the brand continued on Thursday, with many groups calling for a boycott of the brand.

An airport duty fee shop in the southern Chinese city of Haikou said on Weibo it had removed all Dolce & Gabbana products from its shelves.

The Communist Party Youth League, the youth wing of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, said on Weibo “we welcome foreign companies to invest and develop in China ... companies working in the country should respect China and Chinese people”. (Reporting by Pei Li and Cate Cadell in Beijing; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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