Why is This Racist Chinese Detergent Ad Trending Right Now?

An ad for Chinese detergent brand Qiaobi is trending on Reddit for all the wrong reasons.

Here at Okayafrica, we’re trying to wrap our heads around this ad for Chinese detergent brand Qiaobi.

Watch it at the top.

It shows a black man whistling at a Chinese woman while he takes a break from doing a paint job at her home. She summons him, fakes him out with a kiss before putting what looks like a detergent pod into his mouth, and then throws him headfirst into her washing machine. Then the Chinese woman sits on top of the machine while the black man cries out. Once she opens the washer, to her surprise, the black man has been transformed into a Chinese man, who winks at her suggesting the detergent worked.

Yeah, woah—there’s a lot to unpack here for obvious (racist) reasons—from skin bleaching, ethnic cleansing to stereotypes of black men preying on white women (or in this case, an Asian woman) to rape them; a trope which has been used historically to justify racialized violence against black men. Also, one could argue it touches on China's rise in Africa and extraction of its natural resources.

Perhaps these allusions were lost on the Chinese creatives who came up with the ad?

However, a bit of digging online reveals this ad might have been ripped off or at least based on this Italian ad for Coloreria (for colors?) detergent, which is also a no-go for racial reasons. No need to explain it, just watch:

The Coloreria ad is suspect because it casts the shirtless, muscular black man as a hypersexualized prop and an object of the white woman’s gaze. While the ad suggests “coloured is better,” it fails to acknowledge Italy’s racial issues. It was only a few years ago when Italy’s first black government minister Cécile Kyenge dealt with racial taunts and had two bananas hurled at her onstage while she addressed supporters.

Both ads reek of racial insensitivity, all for the sake of virality. And what’s worse, both detergent companies don’t actually focus on the features of the products they’re trying to sell.

PEOPLE, LET’S DO BETTER! It is the 21st Century after all. And speaking on the behalf of black and brown people every where, we are beyond tired of pointing out microaggressions that pervade our everyday lives.

And if you’re still not convinced, here’s this vintage video—which quite possibly influenced those ads— that suggests racism isn’t this notion from the past, but is alive and well, even in the commercials we watch.


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Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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