An ad showing an Asian woman sniffing used underwear is being called out for racism and sexism. The commercial by Hornbach, a German DIY store chain, is being slammed for its stereotypical depiction of East Asian women as white worshippers, reports SCMP. “Tasteless and racist. I don’t care if you worked with a Japanese designer to make this. Many people have colonized minds. This ad plays into an old trope of Asians idolizing the west, lacking in sexuality etc,” LeMond wrote. “It is inherently racist and even without racist implications, disgusting. Germany always manages to amaze me with being so ignorant on detecting racism despite an education system that places so much emphasis on history. I guess schools didn’t bother to teach how racism manifests in modern, everyday contexts.”
The commercial shows older white men working in their backyard. Two scientists appear and the older men start stripping off their dirty sweaty clothes. The older men get naked and pass their soiled clothes to the scientist who packs it in airtight plastic packaging. The scene cuts with the sound of an airplane and an Asian woman is seen at a vending machine in what looks like Tokyo. The woman picks out the underwear that was worn by the older white man. She opens it and takes a huge sniff bringing joy and pleasure to her face. The commercial ends with the slogan, “That’s how spring smells.”
East Asian women got upset at the depiction of them as some kind of white-worshippers and demanded an apology, however, Hornbach explained their actions instead of apologizing.
“This ad is truly revolting, insulting, and degrading,” Twitter user @minoge_1022 wrote. “As a Japanese woman I demand a withdrawal of this campaign as well as a sincere apology to the Asian community. An act of sexism and racism such as this should not and will not be tolerated.”
Hornbach tweeted out that the commercial wasn’t racist and sexist. They said that the commerical was to highlight the decreasing quality of life in the city. Hornbach also provided clips of other people, non-Asian, sniffing the underwear.
Our ad is not racist. View the ad as a discourse on the increasing urbanization and decreasing quality of life in cities. The smell of the spring only available in vending machines. For everyone. Not only asian people. pic.twitter.com/XhlOhhgpwI
— Hornbach (@Hornbach_tweets) March 26, 2019
The company emphasized that the city was not Tokyo or any other Asian city, but rather a fictional one.
Although Hornbach explained their commercial, people were not happy. Twitter user @worrynet tweeted, “You are nothing but racists who addicted to anime porn. The facial expression of Asian woman is discusting(sic), and your ad pushed white men to insult Asain(sic) women in this way. A lot of Asian women already have been attacked from white men like you at this moment.”
Hornbach ; pic.twitter.com/gB3ANEmSa6
— 랄부 (@my_blue_balls) March 26, 2019