Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Anger Over Lancome Brews

Protesters, including pan-democratic lawmakers were against Lancome
Cosmetics giant L'Oreal is falling into the trap of doing exactly what you shouldn't do in a crisis -- hide and shut up.

Today there was a pretty vocal protest march into Times Square shopping mall in Causeway Bay, trying to enter the Lancome cosmetics area to shame it from cancelling a free mini concert it had organized on June 19, with Denise Ho Wan-sze as the headline act.

They complained the brand was kowtowing to China
The whole kerfuffle started when the nationalistic state media outlet Global Times accused Lancome of inviting "a Hong Kong and Tibet independence advocate to promote products", while mainland internet users threatened to boycott the brand.

Ho was a strong supporter of the 2014 Occupy protests, even willing to be arrested when police moved in to shut down the 79-day movement in Admiralty. She was also pictured meeting the Dalai Lama on her 39th birthday in May.

It was the threat of mainland customers potentially boycotting Lancome and possibly other beauty brands under L'Oreal, that it seems like Hong Kong was sacrificed to placate the mainland market, and Hong Kong people were not happy.

Knowing there would be protests today, several cosmetic brands closed their shops citing security reasons, including Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent Beaute, Helena Rubenstein, and Shu Uemura.

Denise Ho being escorted by police out of the Occupy protest
Protesters, including at least six pan-democratic lawmakers and Demosisto's Joshua Wong Chi-fung shouted, "Say no to self-censorship!" and "We are all Ho Wan-sze, say no to the mainland's hegemony!"

While Ho herself didn't make an appearance, she was interviewed by the BBC. She said she was "shocked and saddened" by Lancome's decision.

"As an international brand, it should stand firm on its core values and moral standards... It is not just about making money," Ho said.

On Monday she issued a statement, calling for Lancome to explain itself. But so far there's just been silence -- and closed shops.

Ho, in white shirt, met the Dalai Lama in May
It's hard to understand why Lancome chose Ho to be associated with the brand, knowing her political stance since at least 2014. It is naive of the brand to think Ho is only an artist -- she also has very strong political views and she's paying the price for it, with no opportunities for high-paying gigs on the mainland.

The incident also plainly shows how Lancome is desperately kowtowing to Beijing -- but again, if it wants to curry favour with the mainland market, surely it should have known that one shouldn't choose Ho to perform?

Heads will definitely roll in Lancome, but in the meantime someone has to come forward and explain the whole situation. But as this is Hong Kong, where transparency is hardly the norm, we expect more stony silence in the days to come...

1 comment:

  1. Time to start campaign for worldwide boycott of all L'Oreal products until Lancome reverses its policy of #LGBT discrimination of Denise Ho Wan-Sze.