Jo Malone describes former brand’s decision to drop John Boyega from advert as ‘despicable and disgusting’

‘If I’d been standing there in those shoes, I promise you John this would never have happened,’ perfumer states

Friday 18 September 2020 16:03
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Jo Malone describes former brands decision to drop John Boyega from advert 'despicable and disgusting'

Jo Malone has criticised her former company’s decision to cut John Boyega from an advert he directed and starred in, saying she feels “humiliated” to have her name associated with the controversy.

Last year, it was announced that Boyega had been chosen as the first male ambassador for Jo Malone London - which is now owned by Estee Lauder. The actor starred in an advert, called “A London Gent”, and is shown hanging out with friends and family in Peckham, where he grew up.

When the advert was launched in China, it was reshot with actor Liu Haoran, a decision that Boyega only learnt about later on social media.

Jo Malone London issued an apology to Boyega for what the company described as a “misstep”. Shortly afterwards, the Star Wars star revealed that he had decided to step down from his role as a global ambassador for the firm.

On Friday 18 September, perfumer Jo Malone appeared on ITV’s Lorraine where she spoke about the treatment of Boyega by Jo Malone London, which she sold in 1999 and departed from in 2006.

“Firstly, I am so horrified and disgusted at what has been done to John,” Malone said.

“That’s why I’m sitting here. If people like me never speak out, things will never change, things will never be different and people will continue to go through these things.”

Malone added that on a “personal level”, she feels “heartbroken” by the situation, as people assume she was involved in the decision to remove Boyega from the advert he conceptualised.

“This has gone global. My name has been associated and it’s been done in my name, but also people think it’s me,” she stated.

“There is nothing in this, nothing that resembles me. Nothing of my spirit, if I’d been standing there in those shoes, I promise you John this would never have happened.”

Malone said that these circumstances have shown there is a “big lesson to everybody” when a business attached to a person’s name is sold, saying that both the person and the company “have a responsibility”.

The perfumer said she feels “humiliated” by the incident, describing Jo Malone London’s failure to contact Boyega prior to the launch of the reshot advert as “despicable and disgusting”.

Jo Malone on ITV's Lorraine (Friday 18 September)

“When you look at that video and you look through his eye being a child, that man brought his life story to people and to that brand and how dare somebody treat him – and he finds out he’s been replaced on social media. That’s the bit that really gets to me,” she said.

“It’s the fact they never spoke to him, they never considered for one minute what he would feel like. That for me is utterly despicable and it’s disgusting.”

On Thursday 17 September, Jo Malone London released a statement on Instagram stating: “To clarify Jo Malone CBE left the company in 2006 and has had no involvement in these events,” five days after the firm released its initial statement regarding the advert.

Speaking on Lorraine, Malone said: “This has gone global around the world – what am I supposed to do? ‘We clarify?’ I’m sorry. I find that insulting.

“No apology, no recognition that this was their mess and they need to clear up. On a human level, people make mistakes. I’ve made mistakes, I get that. But when you make mistakes as a human being you clear up your own mess.

“If we are ever to see change in this country and this world people need to start taking responsibility,” she added.

The Independent has contacted Jo Malone London for comment.

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