The Ivy Asia apologises for ‘culturally insensitive’ and ‘totally inappropriate’ advert

Advert to promote new restaurant in Chelsea has been accused of ‘mocking Asian people’

Olivia Petter
Monday 09 August 2021 11:37
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The Ivy Asia in Chelsea apologises for racist and offensive advert

The Ivy Asia has issued a formal apology after a video for its new Chelsea branch was widely criticised for its depiction of Asian people.

The short advert, which was released on 8 August on social media but has since been deleted, featured two women dressed in traditional East Asian clothing, including kimonos.

In the video, the two women, dubbed “the ladies”, are carrying several branded Ivy Asia bags. They climb into a rickshaw before tumbling backwards, only to be saved by a “hero” who speedily takes them to the restaurant.

The two women fall through the door of the restaurant before being seated for a meal.

The video was widely shared over the weekend as people accused it of being “loaded with anti-Asian racism”.

Now, the organisation has issued an apology, stating that it is conducting an “internal review” to ensure nothing similar happens again.

“We would like to sincerely apologise for the offence caused by our marketing video,” the Ivy’s apology statement, which was posted on Instagram, begins.

“It was wrong. It was done naively and it was totally inappropriate and culturally insensitive. We had a complete ignorance of understanding.

“We are conducting an immediate internal review into our marketing processes and publication guidelines to make 100 per cent sure this does not happen again.

“We need to educate ourselves and we are already looking to engage the relevant external bodies to review concept, culture and all internal and external processes.

“We must learn lessons and move forward in a totally new and appropriate way. Once again, we apologise unreservedly.”

The backlash to the advert started almost as soon as it was released, with one person describing it as “disgusting and insulting, as well as racist” on Twitter.

“Completely shocking to watch this horrifically racist promo, knowing that multiple people created and funded this,” tweeted the End The Virus Of Racism campaign.

“It brings into sharp view the racism that exists across all the Ivy Asia restaurants. They see us as a monolith, profit from our cuisine while continuing to mock us.”

Tam Hau-Yu, who is head of the End The Virus Of Racism campaign, added: “#TheIvyAsia being dragged for TRULY disgusting levels of anti-Asian racism, sexism & sizeism.”

Another person described the advert as a “blatant disregard and caricature of Asian culture”.

A spokesperson from besea.n, Britain’s East and South East Asian Network, said: “We were disappointed to see the latest video from The Ivy Asia and their generally culturally insensitive marketing strategy revolving around stereotypes and homogenising lots of East and South East Asia.

“We would encourage The Ivy Asia and similar businesses to do suitable research in future and be conscious of insensitive language and stereotypes.

“Consider how you can use your influence to positively shape your customers’ understanding of the culture you are profiting from.”

The Ivy Collection has several restaurants across the UK and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017.

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