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'Mistress ad' on Chinese daily newspaper sparks blacklash

2013-08-22 08:34 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

A "mistress ad" that appeared on a daily newspaper in south China's Guangdong province Tuesday has caused a public furore as many say it is vulgar and against healthy social conduct.

In the ad in Southern Metropolis Daily of about 40 Chinese character, the former mistress of a Mr Zhang who is now married to Zhang, urged her predecessor, the former Mrs Zhang, to give up as "a good man only belongs to the woman who can make herself beautiful" and declares her wish that "there won't be any mistresses in the world".

Ont Tuesday morning, a picture of the ad went viral on microblogging sites and messaging services, drawing criticism from many net users.

The ad also triggered an investigation by the Guangdong provincial administration of industry and commerce. The agency later said the ad was commercial speculation by a cosmetics brand and claimed it violated the advertising law by going against healthy social conduct.

The newspaper canceled the brand's advertising campaign, originally scheduled to be printed in the following days covering topics ranging from typhoons through international relations to conjugal relations.

After the ad went viral online, the ad itself and the newspaper were both widely criticised by the public and experts alike.

"They shouldn't use such a trick to attract public attention. My buddies and I are all stunned," wrote "Liujuanhaha" in Sina Weibo microblog. "Where is the bottom line for the media?"

"Such 'originality' won't get compliments. It is just a kind of speculation aimed at getting people's attention," wrote another Sina Weibo user "Mubaoshu".

"Even it is commercial advertising, the media shouldn't publish it. Although the media gained attention and advertising revenue, its image and credibility could also be damaged," said "Mubaoshu".

"I don't think there will be any lady going to buy the merchandise after seeing the ad," the microblogger added.

"I haven't bought the company's products behind the advertising and I will never buy their products in the future," wrote "Xiaoxiaokamen". "It is too much. Even it is an ad, it should have moral bottom line."

"Few people would know this was a cosmetics ad," said Zhang Fuzhong of the Guangdong Xingchen Law Office. "This violated the advertising law and also went against healthy social conduct, especially exerting an impact on the moral standards of minors."

It even drew criticism from public relations staff.

"The ad quickly got people's attention, but marketing with no consideration of consequences and no regard to morality could damage the brand," said a worker at the public relations firm Ruder Finn who declined to be named.

"Many newspapers are in hard times due to declining subscriptions and advertising revenue. So it can not be ruled out that the daily paper relaxed its review over ads because of operational pressure," said Li Xing, a professor of journalism at South China University of Technology.

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