In a perfect example of how not to promote your company’s smartphones, tech giant Xiaomi has found itself mired in controversy over a commercial whose imagery referenced the Second World War nuclear attacks on Japan, RADII reported.
The commercial (now deleted) was a fast-moving spot for the company’s Redmi Note 9 series of smartphones, the report said.
About 45 seconds into the ad, a Caucasian man eats a piece of sushi and inflates into a giant balloon. He crashes out through the roof of the building over a Japanese cityscape, where he explodes into a mushroom cloud, RADII reported.
The “Fat Man” imagery was supposed to highlight the phones’ “fast charge” feature, officials said.
Xiaomi has since apologized on its Japanese Twitter account, RADII reported.
“We included content in this campaign that was inappropriate,” the statement reads. “We will strive to prevent this from recurring in the future.”
On China’s Weibo platform, response to the news was mixed. Some netizens chastised the insensitive imagery, while others regarded it as an act of patriotism.
“Don’t take someone else’s pain as a joke,” reads one.
“They didn’t forget the atomic bomb, we didn’t forget their invasion of China,” reads a related comment.
Reaction was swift on Twitter, as well.
“Xiaomi is racist, anti-Japan, anti-Japanese corporation. We Japanese will never ever buy or trust Xiaomi. Disgusting corp,” a Japanese Twitter user wrote with hashtags #BoycottChina and #BoycottXiaomi, SupChina reported.
China and Japan have a history punctuated by major conflict and strife, including the eight-year Second Sino-Japanese War, during which the Japanese Imperial Army committed mass murder and rape in Nanjing.
The historical animosity between the two countries has been nurtured and encouraged by endless broadcasting of war films on TV, and frequent reminders in Chinese history textbooks, SupChina reported.
The visual elements used in the controversial video were in apparent reference to the 1945 nuclear attack on Nagasaki, which instantly killed at least 40,000 people. “Fat Man” was the code name for the atomic bomb that was detonated over the city.
The news comes directly after a Xiaomi vice-president came under fire for vulgar comments, RADII reported.
Xiaomi VP Chang Cheng sparked anger on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo after he posted a series of “joke” ideas on how to promote the companies new Mi 10 Youth edition handset.
Chang suggested that storylines including “behind every pretty girl in the female dormitory there must be a (@>_<@) room” and “while everyone was watching you score points on the basketball court, I saw you split your pants” should be used to promote the product.
According to RADII, netizens described the attempt at humor as advocating for voyeurism and stalking and bashed the VP with over 60 million comments on Weibo using the hashtag #常程.