A salad store paraded dozens of half-naked Western men dressed as Spartans through China's capital as a publicity stunt, causing a stir and drawing a crackdown by police who were photographed restraining some of them on the ground.
About 40 mostly blond and brown-haired men wearing bronze shorts, arm and leg guards and capes styled after the attire of people in the ancient Greek city of Sparta marched in Beijing's central business district and an upscale shopping area on 22 July. Bearing plastic tubs of salads, the bare-chested men attracted crowds of onlookers and posed for photos with women that circulated widely on social media.
Police were less amused. They dispersed the parade at the Sanlitun shopping area, and photos in state media showed police on top of two of the Spartans who apparently had been wrestled to the ground.
Police said in a statement on 23 July that they had to control some "foreigners in short pants" to restore public order. It said the matter was still under investigation.
The store, Sweetie Salad, said the stunt to celebrate their 1-year anniversary generated far more interest than expected. It said in a statement posted online that store representatives spoke with police to clear up any "misunderstanding."
"We chose Spartans and invited foreign models who are physically fit simply because we wanted to encourage our customers to pursue the beauty of being healthy," the store said.
The incident follows on the heels of another that drew attention from social media users and police — a home-made sex video purportedly taken in a Uniqlo fitting room, also in Sanlitun.