Apple Daily has been forced to apologize after running an advertorial featuring a renowned Hong Kong-based Australian artist who disavowed it.
The newspaper said none of its editorial staff was involved but held an employee from its classified ads department responsible after an internal investigation.
The employee has been suspended, according to media reports.
The investigation followed a Facebook post by Gregory Charles Rivers (河國榮) in which the 50-year-old Australian performer complained about being used in an advertisement without his permission.
Rivers said he was approached in February to do an interview with Apple Daily in Jini Bakery Cookies, a local bake shop, on March 7.
He was to be paid HK$2,000 (US$258) for expenses.
He went to the venue on the appointed day and was quickly made to pose inside the shop by a photographer.
Rivers repeatedly asked the photographer if the photos were going to be used in an article or in an advertorial and was told these were for the interview, according to news website hk01.com.
The interview lasted five minutes but Rivers said he did not check the media credentials of the interviewer who asked just three questions.
The photographer did not say whether they were from Apple Daily.
On March 20, Apple Daily ran a full-page spread of Jini cookies with Rivers’s image and it was marked “advertorial”.
A day earlier, the bake shop published a photo of Rivers on its Facebook page, along with a note thanking him for “dropping by”.
The post was subsequently removed.
Netizens flooded Jini’s social media pages with angry comments and expressed their support for Rivers.
Jini Bakery Cookies has been dismissed as a copycat version of Jenny Bakery, a popular pastry shop which operates in Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China.
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