Popular pizza chain slammed for allegedly tone-deaf ad

Domino’s Pizza has come under intense fire for a recent advertisement it aired in the U.K.

On Dec. 23, the pizza chain released the 30-second ad on YouTube. Titled “Concrete Claire Launch TV UK,” it features three BIPOC women discussing what to eat. When one of them asks for suggestions, a second promptly answers with what many members of the Asian community are calling a tone-deaf response.

“Anything but Chinese,” the woman says, to which the other women agree.

When a third woman named Claire suggests a fake restaurant called “Madagascan Halloumi Pop-up,” a future version of Claire shows up with her legs stuck in cement and warns the trio of the rocky journey she went through to pick up the food from the pop-up shop. The ad ends with the group, none of whose members are Chinese, deciding on Domino’s because of its delivery services.

In the weeks following the ad’s release, social media users have criticized the ad for being insensitive, especially during a time when many Chinese businesses across the world are suffering as result of the xenophobia and racism tied to the pandemic. In London alone, for example, Chinese restaurants reported a 50 percent drop in business in early 2020.

“Absolutely tasteless and abhorrent marketing,” one YouTube user wrote in response to the ad. “It is incredibly immature and disgusting for a food company to exhibit racism against a minority group just because its the ‘in’ thing to hate on Chinese people now.”

“Already increased racism to east asians due to the pandemic and you further it with this disgusting subtle racism here,” another added.

Nextshark reported that at least one social media user — Viv Yau, a member of the grassroots organization Britain’s East and South East Asian Network — reported the ad to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the country’s advertising regulator. The outlet also credited Yau with bringing attention to the issue on both TikTok and Instagram in the first place.

“WTF @dominos_uk?! ‘Anything but Chinese’?? A corporate to perpetuate and imply that we should avoid Chinese (and thereby ESEA businesses) given the current climate where independent ESEA businesses have never been so affected by COVID-fuelled racism is IRRESPONSIBLE and RACIST,” she wrote in an Instagram story. “I implore you to remove the advert.” (Note: ESEA stands for East and South East Asian here.)

In a continuation of her Instagram story, Yau explained that she had worked in the advertising space before and suggested that the demographic of its workforce oftentimes leaves room for problematic ads like Domino’s ad to be released.

“I know how the process goes. I know how white-dominated these industries are,” she wrote. “If we had one ESEA person on the team, this may have been caught.”

Yau has since created a complaint template for others to use should they want to report Domino’s ad to the ASA.

If you found this article insightful, read about the controversy surrounding a white chef who threatened to sue a Vietnamese American woman for correcting his spelling of Vietnamese food.

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