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Facebook aflame over laundry detergent ad in which woman turns black man pale

Technically Incorrect: In China, Qiaobi laundry detergent launches an ad that many find racist.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


qiaobi.jpg

Yes, she's putting detergent into her man's mouth.

Benoit Florencon/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Last December, the poster for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in China was criticized because John Boyega -- the actor who played Finn -- was scarcely visible.

Boyega is black. Some thought the poster racist.

Now comes an ad for Qiaobi, a Chinese laundry detergent that has already incited many online to describe it as openly racist.

The ad shows a woman doing her laundry. Her presumed boyfriend, who is black, wanders over to her.

You think they might kiss. Instead, she shoves the finest Qiaobi detergent into his mouth, forces him into the washing machine and turns it on.

She then sits on the machine, ignoring the man's cries.

When the cycle is over, you'll never guess what emerges. Why, yes. The black man is now Chinese.

Even the wiliest of diplomats would surely struggle to chuckle this one away.

Indeed, when the Shanghaiist posted it to Facebook it not only garnered hundreds of thousands of views, but also comments such as this from Claudio Marcius Melfi: "Wow. That is really the most racist ad I have ever seen. Would certainly cause civil and criminal law suits if aired in other countries."

It would cause slightly more than that, I fear.

Then there was this from Angel Negron: "This is great. I remember a few weeks ago Chinese people going off on how they aren't racist and American's are racist. This most definitely puts that argument to rest."

Some, though, thought it, oh yes, amusing.

"It's just a commercial about a product that changes the color of your clothes, there's a version that goes from white guy to a black guy," wrote Xiao Hua. "nobody complained, but omg from black to yellow?? how dare you! You must be racist now! People on the Internet are just too sensitive for no reason, use your brain and laugh a bit."

He was, I fear, referring to an Italian ad from 2007 that did indeed depict a white man being washed into becoming a black man, because "colored is better." Oddly, this ad had almost identical music to the new Chinese one and several other remarkable similarities. (Video below.)

On YouTube, too, the Chinese ad quickly came before hundreds of thousands of eyes, with one poster accusing it of "raw racism." But again, one reply offered: "Respect to China for not giving a damn about political correctness."

It's unclear how much this ad has been seen in China. As BuzzFeed reports, on China's biggest online retail store Taobao, a mere 44 boxes had been sold.

Attempts to contact Qiaobi were unsuccessful. The ad, though, has perhaps already become a success of sorts by making the brand famous.

Sometimes, though, it's worth wondering what you should be famous for.