The abrupt decision by cosmetics brand Lancôme to cancel a promotional event at which pro-democracy pop star Denise Ho Wan-see was invited to perform is creating ripples in Hong Kong and abroad.
Several pan-democratic parties plan to demonstrate Wednesday at Lancôme’s store in Causeway Bay to demand an explanation and an apology from the brand’s parent, L’Oréal Group, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Wednesday.
The League of Social Democrats, along with multiple pro-democracy parties and groups, has launched a joint signature campaign to allow citizens to show their discontent and has called on the public to boycott the French cosmetics giant’s products.
The incident has caught the eye of international media, including BBC, The New York Times and the Financial Times.
Change.org, a global online petition platform, has collected thousands of signatures from all over the world requesting L’Oreal Hong Kong president Stephen Mosely to withdraw the decision by Lancôme or else its products will be boycotted, Apple Daily reported.
Lancôme announced Sunday the cancellation of the event, scheduled for June 19 in Sheung Wan, citing “possible safety reasons”.
Days earlier, Global Times, a sister publication of the official People’s Daily, had said the brand’s invitation to the Cantopop singer, a staunch supporter of the pro-democracy movement, to perform was tantamount to using the money the company earns from mainland consumers to pay a pro-independence Hong Kong artist.
The cancellation angered many Hongkongers, who believe Lancôme’s decision was made under pressure from Beijing, after netizens in mainland China, where the brand is popular, vowed to boycott its products.
Global Times published another editorial Tuesday to defend Lancôme.
It was wise for the brand not to get involved in politics, as business is business, the editorial said.
It said the company knows very well it is important to take the feelings of the public in the mainland into consideration.
Stressing that mainland consumers will in the future be even more directly opposed to offshore artists who try to profit from China but defame it at the same time, the editorial claimed that Ho has no reason to feel that she is being treated unjustly, as she openly supported the pro-democracy activists during the 2014 Occupy movement.
In an interview with the BBC Tuesday, Ho said she was sorry about and shocked by Lancôme’s decision, of which she was not informed in advance, saying she could not understand why such a major international brand cannot stick to its core values and moral standards but feels it has to bow to political pressure.
Asked if she has ever regretted supporting the Occupy movement, Ho said she would not have been happier if she had not done so.
She said her choice has indeed cost her a giant market in the mainland, where she is banned from performing, but earned her more support in Hong Kong instead.
It is a pity more celebrities, including from Taiwan, have not dared to come forward to speak up for democracy like she did, Ho said.
Lancôme and L’Oréal chose to stay silent, and their offices will be closed Wednesday, Ming Pao Daily reported.
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