Cartier's 'father-son' Valentine draws derision in China

2020-08-31 Writer:default

Beijing - French luxury brand Cartier is facing onlinemockery in China over a Valentine-themed advert which appears to show a gaycouple who are described in a caption as depicting "father-son" love.

Cartier posted a video on Chinese social media platform Weibo thisweekpromoting its "Trinity" ring, which the brand described in the video'scaptionas representing the "bond of love" -- ahead of the late-August QixiFestival,one of China's traditional Valentine's day equivalents.The video showed groups of people laughing and embracing each other,including a man and a woman holding hands, two women lying on the groundtogether, and two young men riding bicycles while wearing matching rings.The English tagline asks: "How far would you go for love?"

Many viewers interpreted the video, which didn't specify therelationshipsbetween the people depicted, as showing gay and lesbian couples alongside aheterosexual couple.The top comment on Cartier's Weibo post was a user who said "I feel likethis supports LGBT", to which hundreds of other users responded withmessagesof support and praise as well as pride-flag emojis.But a caption published by Cartier's online store on Alibaba's Tmallplatform under a photo of the same two men prompted confusion and ridicule,especially as the pair appeared to be a similar age.The caption, which read "father and son, bound by love, enjoying life'sjourney", was "inconsistent" with the romantic photograph, users on popularonline forum Douban complained.

Online content in China, especially content depicting LGBT people, issubject to heavy and often arbitrarily applied censorship.In recent years, censors have muted discussions on social media, bannedhomosexuality in films and even prevented the sale of rainbow-themed itemsonline.

But Cartier's apparent caution has backfired."Ahahahahaha," one Douban user wrote, "gay love has been turned intoincest.""If they're father and son, why are they buying matching rings?" anotherasked."So unnecessary!" commented one LGBT-focused Weibo account.

In a statement, Cartier said it had launched a movie in China with fourindependent stories depicting "romantic, friendship or family love"."Since its creation in 1924, the three rings of the Trinity series havealways symbolised the intrinsic timelessness of close relationships betweenlovers, friends and family members," the brand said.

"As such, one of the stories features the unique bond between a father andhis son, enjoying a joyful and playful bike ride together, symbolising thejourney of life when there will be moments of parting ways."

Cartier, which did not immediately comment on the issue, is thelatest in along line of foreign brands whose marketing campaigns in China have goneawry.

Luxury fashion brands Versace, Coach and Givenchy all apologised lastyearfor making perceived affronts to China's national sovereignty with T-shirtslisting Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate countries, while Italy's Dolce &Gabbana faced a boycott in 2018 over racially offensive social media posts.Earlier this week, French brand Balenciaga's retro 1990s-themed ChineseValentine's Day ad campaign was criticised by state-run tabloid Global Timesas being "behind the times" and "just a perfunctory effort."

Image: Cartier Facebook

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