My Take on the D&G China Ad Campaign
In an attempt to dip their hands into the pockets of their target demographic, Dolce and Gabbana blatantly disrespected Chinese culture. Their ignorance was displayed through a number of modes which included symbols, auditory cues, and the type of language that was used.
Symbolism is very powerful in the sense that you can encapsulate complex concepts in a single object. In this campaign, the chopsticks connoted that the Chinese were unrefined, simplistic people who could not measure up to Western ideals. The Italian dishes were described as great and traditional, ignoring the history of China altogether. The model herself was an Oriental caricature, a two-dimensional prop playing an overused stereotype. The off-stage voice had a very patronising tone when instructing her how to eat the dishes, which reflects a regressive, patriarchal society. Lastly, they seem to have disregarded the fact that China is very much globalised and has access to different cultures.
However, I do suspect that this was a marketing strategy to grab attention and provoke, meant to bring the public’s eye towards the brand itself. If so, it backfired horribly resulting in boycotts and demands for an apology from the designers. It is a great thing that so many voices called out against the misrepresentation in the campaign. It shows that we, as a society, are aware of both overt and underlying problems that threaten to divide us.