A campaign for John West’s new tuna tempters product “Street Asian” has received complaints that it’s racist and portrays negative Asian stereotypes. The Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has ruled the campaign isn’t discriminatory.
The ad features the John West bear, in a “K-Pop” (popular Korean-pop style) music video. The video is set against an Indonesian street market backdrop and features The John West Bear dancing with K-Pop dancers. The lyrics explain the new “Tuna flavour Asia” range from John West featuring Indonesian, Korean, Thai and Malaysian flavours.
The ASB received a complaint saying “It’s racist. I’ve lost count of the Asian stereotypes portrayed in a deficit manner”.
In its response to the complaint, a representative from John West said: “The advertisement presents an authentic K-Pop style music video that is a celebration of a Korean style of pop music that is dramatic, exciting and very popular across the world and seen in a positive light and does not in any way perpetuate a negative stereotype.
“The clip was created as a professional reflection of a legitimate and positive style of Asian music in good spirits and with no malice towards any culture represented.
“We consider that an ordinary consumer and the community would not consider that the Advertisement was in any way racist, portraying a negative racial stereotype (or any stereotype) or in any other way be inappropriate or offensive.”
The ASB agreed with John West, noting the advertisement features authentic Korean K-Pop dance group AO Crew, music produced by Indonesian duo the Sutardy Brothers and Chinese rapper GMC.
“The Board considered that the advertisement was not a negative depiction of Asian culture, but rather a celebration of the culture in the context of an Asian tasting range of products. The Board considered that while the advertisement may include Asian stereotypes, the stereotypes did not hold the culture up to ridicule or contempt but rather are a positive demonstration of the K-Pop style and reflective of Asian culture to highlight the Asian taste of new products.”