SHANGHAI — Social media in China lit up Friday with complaints about a Dolce & Gabbana advertising campaign shot in Beijing, which made its public debut to coincide with the Italian brand’s “Alta Moda” show in the capital.
The hashtag may have been #DGLovesChina, but there were plenty of Chinese that did not love the images released by the brand, which shows models on the streets of Beijing, posing by landmarks such as the Forbidden Palace, but also in the city’s old “hutong” neighborhoods, flanked by what appear to be ordinary Chinese people going about their daily business.
The images have since been removed from Dolce & Gabbana’s official Weibo account, but remain on the brand’s other social media channels, including Instagram. At the time of publication, Dolce & Gabbana had not responded to requests for comment on the controversy.
It’s the images taken in the old neighborhoods of the city that seem to have most upset users of Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo.
“What is Dolce & Gabbana thinking?” asked user Quan Shaoye, while in a widely circulated post, a user with the handle Zhankai Zark wrote: “If DG’s love for China is really sincere, they should be more understanding of contemporary Chinese culture.”
Some users seemed particularly galled because of previous campaigns Dolce & Gabbana has done in other Asian countries, such as Japan and Korea, which showed hyper-modern depictions of those countries’ cityscapes.
“I don’t quite understand the comparison between a general middle-aged woman and the stagy model… BTW, Tiananmen, hutongs are not the entire Beijing at all! Such a narrow view! I’m so disappointed at the series, especially after seeing the Japan series!” Weibo user XipaopaoerFiora wrote.
“The pictures totally ignored the high-speed development and changes taking place in China! This is intentional distortion,” wrote Linbiying.
Dolce & Gabbana isn’t the first brand to run into trouble by attempting to localize their marketing messages or product offerings to a Chinese audience.
In December, Victoria’s Secret came under fire for allegedly trying to attract Chinese consumers with a dragon-themed assortment taking the runway in Paris.