This Chinese detergent ad is being universally blasted for racism

For once, the internet’s collective outrage at something is right.

A commercial for Qiaobi, a Chinese laundry detergent, is jaw droppingly racist. The commercial shows a woman loading clothes into a washing machine when a paint-splattered black man approaches her. She then stuffs him into washer where he pops out as an Asian man.

The commercial was posted by an American Facebook user yesterday, now living in China with the caption “I’m appalled.” It racked up 3.7 million views and another 2.1 million views on YouTube. What was initially an ad shown in Chinese movie theaters in March and April led to outrage mostly in the United States. Brandwatch said 51 percent of all mentions came from the U.S. with China only making 3 percent of online chatter.

The blog Shanghaiist notes the ad is a “blatant ripoff” of a similar ad for an Italian detergent from nine years ago. In that version, a white man is lured into a washer and comes out as a hunky black man, with the detergent’s slogan reading “colored is better.”

But in China, as the Shanghaiist explains, there’s a “well-established phobia of dark skin which unfortunately also breeds racist attitudes towards people of African descent, who are viewed by some as ‘dirty’ simply because of their skin tone,” so the ad wasn’t likely viewed as tone-deaf. In fact, 70 percent of all searches for on Baidu are for skin whitening products. It’s also one of many racist ads that’s been created.

Still, responses and comments ricocheted around the internet lashing the brand. Many called it the “most racist” ad they’ve ever seen.

Qiaobi was not responding to request for comments, according to the South China Morning Post.

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