Malaysian bank pulls insurance ad campaign featuring ‘blackface’ domestic worker

Malaysia’s Hong Leong Financial Group has been forced to withdraw a controversial insurance ad, run in Hong Kong, which featured a ‘blackfaced’ domestic worker clumsily injuring herself around the house.

The advertising for the Hong Leong Insurance campaign, which according to the bank was designed “to draw the public’s attention to the benefits of having appropriate insurance protection for employees”, was withdrawn last night with bank saying it regretted that the ad had been seen as racist.

“We regret that our recent advertisement involving an individual playing two characters resulted in comments about the advertisement being racist,” a spokeswoman for Hong Leong Bank told Mumbrella Asia.

“We wish to emphatically state that at no time did Hong Leong Insurance (Asia) Limited intend to offend any person or be to any extent discriminatory on grounds of race, sex or otherwise.”

Online elements of the 'blackface'campaign

Online elements of the ‘blackface’campaign

The ad first drew comment earlier this week on the Hong Wrong blog with readers asked to express their concern about the advertising, which included both video and online advertising to the bank’s social media and email contacts.

Among the comments on Facebook and Twitter from members of the public were: 2

02564After being contacted by Mumbrella Asia the bank said it would withdraw the campaign.

“Hong Leong Insurance (Asia) Limited has always placed great emphasis on being a responsible corporate citizen… Our sole intention has been to draw the public’s attention to the benefits of having appropriate insurance protection for employees, in this particular case domestic helpers,” said the spokeswoman.

“Nevertheless, we have taken action to withdraw the said advertisement as we sincerely do not wish to upset any member of the public. “

Nic Christensen


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