Wynne Gross, the mother of Korean American model Ella Gross, responded to accusations that her 11-year-old daughter was sexually exploited in a recent Baskin Robbins commercial.
Intended for South Korean audiences, the controversial ad generated immediate backlash from local viewers who found it to be sexually suggestive. Many criticized the ad for dressing Gross like an adult which some have considered to be “weird and disgusting.”
There are also those who defended the ad, arguing that the claims of sexualization only stemmed from oversensitivity, reports the Korea Herald.
The short clip features close-ups and slow-motion shots of Ella’s lips as she eats the ice cream off a spoon, interspersed with images of milk exploding on the screen.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Wynne called the critics’ reaction as “careless and combative.” She noted that she was “saddened to see how certain segments of the Korean public reacted to this commercial.”
“To those that are rallying against the Baskin Robbins commercial, stop saying that you are doing this ‘for Ella,'” she added. “She is surrounded and loved by many strong and powerful women who wholeheartedly have her best interests at heart and who are confused and angered by your hurtful and negative reactions to a beautiful child.”
Meanwhile, Baskin Robbins has apologized for the ad, saying, “We have decided to stop sharing the video after our customers expressed discomfort with the image of Ella Gross in the commercial. From now on, we will try to become a brand that listens to diverse opinions and advice from our customers. Once again, we apologize to all customers of Baskin Robbins.”
According to the company, both of Gross’ parents were present during the entire production, which included a thorough discussion with the parents and her agency.
“(The commercial) was planned to connect the image of Ella Gross, who has a confident and unique attitude despite her young age, to the image of ‘Pink Star’ and was produced after sufficient prior discussions with the child model’s parents and her agency. The commercial was filmed under the observation of Ella Gross’s parents and her makeup was done according to the standard level of child models wearing clothing from the children’s clothing brand that she is a model for. Despite the series of procedures and preparations, we have halted the exposure of the video to actively accommodate the opinions of customers who feel uncomfortable about Ella Gross’s image in the commercial.”
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