In an attempt to penetrate the Chinese market, a popular Scotch whiskey brand decided it was best to continue using the traditional, cliched stereotypes in its marketing.
In a recently released ad, Johnnie Walker featured an interaction between a white man, his Chinese fiancé, and her disapproving Chinese father.
In the commercial posted on their Facebook page, we see the couple in their montage of sweet moments where the White male lead does his best to become more “Asian” by learning the Chinese language and doing other Asian stuff.
Fast forward to the couple’s wedding day, the groom bravely approached the seemingly indifferent father-in-law, named Mr. Fong, and says “Ni hao, Mr. Fong.” He then hands out a bottle of Blue Label whiskey as a gift to Mr. Fong saying in Mandarin, “Please accept this gift.”
His charms seemed to have worked on Mr. Fong who then smiled positively. Thinking that everything is now all well and good, the new bride peeks through the door but unfortunately was met with a cold expression from her dad. The scene, which ended with the woman closing the door and leaving, seems to be showing the audience how Asian men are controlling and that the white man is the liberating hero.
Using a tired trope commonly found in Western TV shows/ films, the commercial predictably went with a narrative featuring a White man who fell in love with an Asian female and is trying to overcome the odds (basically the father) to be together.
It’s 2017 and we still have to deal with a story that depicts the only Asian man as a cold, patriarchal villain, the woman as a subdued character and the White man as her liberator. Keep at it and Asians may just “keep walking” away from your products.