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John Boyega is stepping down as a brand ambassador for the British perfume and candle company Jo Malone after the brand reshot a video he created for the Chinese market.
“I have decided to step down as Jo Malone’s global ambassador,” the Star Wars actor tweeted on Monday. “When I joined the brand as their first male global ambassador last year, I created the short film we used to launch the campaign. It won the Fragrance Foundation Virtual awards 2020 for Best Media Campaign.”
The brand issued an apology on Saturday for taking an ad Boyega created and directed as a global ambassador and replacing Boyega with actor Liu Haoran (Detective Chinatown). The ensuing ad, which originally featured Boyega’s family members and his childhood neighborhood in London, Peckham, did not feature any Black individuals.
According to Boyega’s Monday tweets, he had no knowledge of the reshoot until the video was publicized and circulated. “Their decision to replace my campaign in China by using my concepts and substituting a local brand ambassador for me, without either my consent or prior notice, was wrong. The film celebrated my personal story– showcasing my hometown, including my friends and featuring my family,” Boyega said.
He added, “While many brands understandably use a variety of global and local ambassadors, dismissively trading out one’s culture this way is not something I can condone. It’s back to back but I assure you this will be dealt with swiftly. I don’t have time for nonsense. We press on and strong. Stay blessed people.”
This isn’t the first time Boyega has been embroiled in a race-tinged marketing controversy in China: In 2015, the Chinese movie poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens notably shrunk Boyega’s image as compared with the American version. Social media users also blasted Disney-adjacent Marvel in 2018 for early film posters for Black Panther that showed lead actor Chadwick Boseman masked, unlike posters in the U.S. that showed him unmasked.
Jo Malone’s apology on Saturday called the reshot ad “a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign.” The brand added, “John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.” (The brand additionally apologized to Chinese actor Haoran.)
Jo Malone added, “While we immediately took action and removed the local version of the campaign, we recognize that this was painful and that offense was caused,” it added. “We respect John, and support our partners and fans globally. We are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward.”
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