What Happened: DTC underwear brand Ubras is the latest Chinese name embroiled in a controversy over the objectification of women. The lingerie brand invited a number of stand-up comedians to create videos for a marketing campaign, including the star Si Wen. However, another comedian, Li Dan, has caused spectacular consternation online with his comments. The Chinese phrasing was ambiguous and clearly made some readers uncomfortable, particularly one comment which, when translated, referenced bras as a weapon that allows women to easily “lie-down-win” (tangying) in the workplace. This, along with Li’s claim that there are no products he can’t promote or sell — “Just believe it or not!” — has caused particular offense.
In addition, netizens also unearthed two more brand slogans which hinged on humiliating workers and toyed with the idea of sexual harassment in the workplaces. Ubras has already apologized for the inappropriate use of words during the campaign, which included the word “boobies” to address customers on its official Weibo account.
Jing Take: Firstly, the practice of men promoting women’s products in China is not unusual and male celebrities endorse everything from tampons to lipstick. Companies use these ambassadors to target their followers who will often purchase the products simply based on the influencers endorsement. Comic talk shows are especially popular in China right now and what should have been a fun, good-spirited initiative has backfired dramatically for the Beijing-based brand. Incensed netizens are not holding back.
Some choice comments include: “Banned, I will never ever purchase your brand really disgusting!” and “Is this really from a female team? Women will never write such a thing. Please keep up.” It certainly looks like the days of hiring tone-deaf KOLS are numbered, at least for Ubras, which should stick with positive female influencers such as Ouyang Nana — though even she has come under fire in the past.
As reported earlier this month, international luxury names need to take a stand for their valuable women and non-biary customers; so too must Chinese companies ensure they have safe spaces and feel protected. Especially Ubras, a brand that made an impressive $46,400 million during last year’s 11.11 from selling these products.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.