After finding out that he was replaced by a Chinese actor in an advert/short film he created as part of his role as a Jo Malone ambassador, Star Wars actor John Boyega has decided to cut ties with the brand.
According to a Twitter thread by Boyega, he made the decision because he could not condone the way the brand “dismissively traded out his culture”.
The actor explained that he had created a short film for the brand which they used to launch the campaign announcing him as their first male ambassador.
We are thrilled to announce that our Jo Malone London Gent film featuring @JohnBoyega is the proud winner of The Fragrance Foundation Virtual Awards 2020 for Best Media Campaign. #ScentofAGent #TheFragranceFoundationAwards pic.twitter.com/rNZpTVXLB6
— Jo Malone London (@JoMaloneLondon) August 27, 2020
“It won the Fragrance Foundation Virtual awards 2020 for Best Media Campaign,” tweeted Boyega.
Brands usually use different personalities to create ads in order to penetrate different markets & cultures in various countries but re-shooting John’s creative idea without his consent is criminal.
Take a look;
original ad – left.. Reshot ad – right.pic.twitter.com/kqtQzBB316
— Kelechi (@the_Kelechi) September 15, 2020
“Their decision to replace my campaign in China by using my concepts and substituting a local brand ambassador for me, without either my consent or prior notice, was wrong. The film celebrated my personal story– showcasing my hometown, including my friends and featuring my family,” he added.
He further promised fans that this would be “dealt with swiftly” and concluded by adding that he does not have time for nonsense.
It’s back to back but I assure you this will be dealt with swiftly. I don’t have time for nonsense. We press on and strong. Stay blessed people ❤️
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) September 14, 2020
Following the controversy, Jo Malone, which is owned by Estee Lauder, removed the advert from its campaign in China.
John Boyega is an incredible talent, artist and person and we were proud to have him as part of our Jo Malone London family. We respect John’s decision and we wish him all the best.
— Jo Malone London (@JoMaloneLondon) September 14, 2020
The company also issued a statement apologising for the execution of their campaign in China.
“We deeply apologise for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign.”
In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jo Malone London apologised further, calling their re-casting a “mistake”.
“We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign. John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.”
The controversy has since sparked a debate over China’s racism towards people of colour.
No this is just plain racism. John Boyega has a history of being left out of advertisements to appeal racist Chinese marketing companies. Search up the Star Wars posters for China, search up black panther posters for China.
China does not like blacks, and have a history of this
— Top Militérian (@londonsfinest17) September 14, 2020
This Jo Malone John Boyega scandal is insane. Like I knew they were racist in China but wow
— BLEACH (@WhyBLEACH) September 14, 2020
And anyone that tries to tell you this isn’t racially motivated is simply lying. Everyone knows it is. Disney knows it. That’s why Boyega was cut out of most of the promotional material for Star Wars in China.
Disney didn’t want to upset Chinese racists.
— Jimmy (@JimmySecUK) September 14, 2020