Royal Offence in China
The Chinese brand of women’s lingerie, Jealousy International, has released a print ad featuring a Princess Diana look-alike, playing a cello in underwear. A young boy (Prince William?) holds a music score for her to read, with the headline “Feel the Romance of British Royalty”.
The promotion was spotted by a British journalist in China’s Shenzhen airport in September 2010. Since then, photos of the ad have been posted in newspapers and websites around the world, leading to a wave of disapproval in British media. The ad was characterized as “blatant exploitation” by the Diana Appreciation Society.
Behind the News:
Jealousy International clearly had no intent to offend, and has promoted its Diana range in China since 1996 as a badge of British style. The story may have been amplified due to the unfortunate fact that the ad was released on 31st August 2010, which was the 13th anniversary of Diana’s death.
The use of celebrities to promote different products or services, not always with their prior authorization, is common in China since 2000. Pictures of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have been used, for example, to promote smart phones or housing estates development projects. These practices usually go unnoticed, but can sometimes create backlash. For instance Sean Connery, David Beckham and Keanu Reeves have taken legal action when used in local promotions for erectile dysfunction drugs.