Nothing Says Happy Chinese New Year Like A Racist Billboard

Nothing Says Happy Chinese New Year Like A Racist Billboard

As part of a shopping promotion, Bangkok shopping centre Central Festival unveiled billboards and ads to mark the Chinese New Year. The ad featured a white woman pulling one of her eyes. The text read "Good to be Chinese". Understandably, people got upset.

"I thought this was a joke," wrote one Facebook user, while another Facebook user, Bangkok-based Twitter Matt Crook, wondered how the campaign got approved in the first place. As noted on ChannelNewsAsia, lots of foreigners shop at Central and the ads drew complaints.

Website Coconuts Bangkok points to a Facebook thread titled "Damn Thailand, don't you know that's racist?!" in which the reaction ranged from "This is wrong in so many ways," to "Hahahaha. Funny."

What the woman in the ad appears to be doing is, of course, a long-standing racist gesture Westerners have used towards Asians. Coconuts Bangkok said the gesture isn't known to most Thais — and perhaps, that explains how the image was approved. Maybe not.

The company that owns the shopping malls, Central Pattana, pulled the ads and issued an apology: "We are extremely sorry for the lack of judgement in this issue as we did not realise that the gesture of the model in the advertisement would be offensive to the Chinese communities."

Thai retailer apologises for controversial Chinese New Year ad [ChannelNews Asia] Damn Thailand, don't you know that's racist?! [Nikademus Jiggi [email protected]] Mall's Chinese New Year ad has an eye for the politically incorrect [Bangkok Coconuts]


    They absolutely knew what it meant. This is a huge company with a tonne of international communication in 2014. "We didn't know" is a complete lie.

    They thought it would garner just enough criticism to be edgy. They should be kicking their advertising department to the unemployment office.

    I dream of a world where we can make jokes like this and not have every single person get upset.

    Well to add a point to this its not really Chinese New Year, Its actually the Lunar New Year. Celebrated by all Asian countries that I am aware of excluding Japan who now only celebrate the solar new year (Jan 1) - Granted the Chinese to celebrate the most (longest) followed by Vietnam and Korea. I prefer to refer to the new year as Lunar as its more open minded and really that's what its based off of.

    Last edited 05/02/14 8:37 am

      So... not all asian countries then

    Edited because I realised there are some people who post here on Kotaku who would take it far far far too sensitively

    Last edited 05/02/14 9:11 am

    Sure, the guesture is used offensively in all primary schools in the country. It that context it's racist towards Asians.

    In this context it's racist towards anglosaxons. Why are the Asians getting upset?

    I say good on the advertisers for trying to create something positive out of something largely regarded as negative

      I was confused as to who it was meant to be racist towards...

      And i agree with your last comment, as it's largely a gesture used to mock asians, they've flipped it and used it in a way that isn't really offensive to honkies.

        You refer to all asians to their face as honkies?

    31 January 2014

    Dear Editor,
    It has come to our attention that CPN’s recent Chinese New Year campaign advertisement may have been seen controversial among the Chinese communities.
    We would like to make our heartfelt apology on this issue. We do not have any intention to offend to the Chinese communities. We are extremely sorry for the lack of judgment in this issue as we did not realize that the gesture of the model in the advertisement would be offensive to the Chinese communities.
    We put this issue as our top priority and have taken an immediate action to solve this problem. The advertisement has been taken down from all of our advertising platforms.
    CPN is striving to give the best and rewarding experience to our customers in every aspect. We promise that in the future we will strengthen our advertising review process and take other steps to prevent this type of issue from happening again.

    Sincerely yours,
    Central Pattana Public Company Limited

    I live in Bangkok and saw this ad last week since I work in one of the Central malls.

    It has been replaced with a new plain poster with the theme "Chinese in Love" rather than "Good to be Chinese" and of course, no model in sight.

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