BEIJING – Sharon Stone may have apologized for her controversial remarks on China’s massive earthquake but it’s not stopping the actress from getting her own dose of bad karma.
Reacting to the rising furor over Stone’s comments at the Cannes Film Festival, Dior China said Thursday that it is removing and recalling all advertisements featuring Stone. Meanwhile, local press reported that citizens were ripping down billboards in several locations.
“In light of Sharon Stone’s inappropriate comments and their negative impact, Dior China has decided to withdraw [her ads] immediately and stop using Sharon Stone’s image in any advertising, marketing and commercial activities,” the company said. A spokeswoman said Stone had only been used for limited advertising on select cosmetic product lines and plans were in place before this controversy to use a different model.
In an interview widely disseminated on Youtube.com, Stone said at Cannes last week that “the Chinese” had been unkind to Tibetans. Stone, speaking about the March 14 uprising in Lhasa that led to a violent government crackdown, said the devastating Sichuan earthquake may have been karmic retribution for China.
“I’ve been concerned with how we should deal with the Olympics, because they are not being nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine,” said Stone. “And then all this earthquake and all this stuff happened and I though, is that karma – when you’re not nice that the bad things happen to you?” Stone said.
Following several days of outrage on Chinese Web sites, Dior China‘s press office in Shanghai on Thursday released an apology from Stone.
“In the course of the interview I made inappropriate remarks and for any harm created towards the Chinese people I am extremely sad and apologize,” Stone said.
Toni Belloni, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s group managing director, delicately fielded a question on the Stone controversy at a Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit in Tokyo on Thursday morning, stating that the company may be forced to disassociate itself with the actress. “I think that it was an unfortunate comment from her,” he said, adding that he thinks highly of Stone. “She has a tradition, and I know her well, for being an incredibly available person.”
Belloni said the company needs to have a frank discussion with Stone on China. “If she doesn’t agree, I think we have to, you know, acknowledge that she doesn’t agree and detach us from her. But there’s a possibility of putting things in the right perspective.” Dior, like LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is owned by billionaire Bernard Arnault.
An LVMH spokesman in Paris said Thursday that the company sympathized with all the earthquake victims in China and disagreed with Stone’s comments completely.
On Monday, before announcing that it was pulling Stone’s ads, Dior China issued an apology. “Dior is one of the international brands that entered China early and has won consumers’ respect and loyalty,” the company said in its statement. “We absolutely won’t support any comments that hurt Chinese people’s feelings.” Dior also expressed sympathy for earthquake victims and pledged to help with rebuilding efforts. The company did not say whether its affiliation with Stone had hurt its business in China.
“We’d like to reaffirm our long-term guarantee to the Chinese market and we’ll give support to the rebuilding of the affected areas,” the company said.
For more, see Friday’s issue of WWD.