The makers of the fabled Snickers chocolate bar, US-based Mars Wrigley, is facing a global boycott of the brand in a classic case of “you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t!”
The whole kerfuffle started after the Snickers marketing team unveiled a limited edition Snickers Bar stating it was only available in the “countries” of South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan. South Korean boyband BTS also featured in the promotion.
However, as most people would know, the whole idea that Taiwan is a seperate country is highly controversial in China where it’s regarded as a recalcitrant breakaway territory which needs to come back to the fold, be it peacefully or by other more sinister means.
People soon took to the Chinese social media platform Weibo to express their outrage and threatening to boycott the brand, forcing Mars Wrigley chiefs to issue a grovelling apology.
In a statement over the weekend, the brand said: “We are aware of reports on Snickers-related activities in certain regions of Asia, take this very seriously and express our deep apologies.
“Mars Wrigley respects China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and conducts business operations in strict compliance with local Chinese laws and regulations.”
A second statement from Mars Wrigley was posted to the Weibo platform stating “there is only one China in this world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory”.
But if you thought that was the end of the drama, think again. Now other parts of the world are threatening their own boycott after the brand capitulated to China’s “bullying”! Many turning to social media to show their support for an independent Taiwan.
“Snickers apologises to China for calling #Taiwan a country. Seriously? The Taiwanese people feel they’re independent … you kiss China’s ass Snickers? Boycott #Snickers shameful and pathetic,” one user commented on Twitter.
“Encourage people not to buy Snickers. Why? Pandering to #Chinese bullies. Grow some balls #snickers,” tweeted another.
Others used the hashtags #Taiwanisacounty and #TaiwanIsNotChina in their posts targeting the confectionery company.
“Won’t be buying snickers anymore …#Taiwanisacountry,” a person from Queensland tweeted.
“I’m buying Chokitos now,” another user tweeted, referring to Snickers’s arch rival.
“OMFG #Taiwan IS (sic) a country! Unless you think it’s a paint speckle on a map!” one user tweeted.
“Taiwan has its own democratically elected president and parliament, army, currency, passport. If it’s not a country, then I don’t know what it is,” tweeted another.
“Taiwan is a sovereign country of its own making. If I was China I would show the world that they respect sovereignty, otherwise how can the world respect China,” said another.
Apparently since the chocolatey furore broke over the past few days Google Searches for “is Taiwan a country” have increased by 40 per cent in Australia alone.
The phrase “will China invade Taiwan” has gained 180 per cent more interest worldwide while searches for the phrase “why is Taiwan not recognised as a country” have gone up by 110 per cent.
How all this effects sales of Snickers in Australia is anyone’s guess. A 2021 survey by consumer researchers Canstar Blue voted the Snickers the least popular chocolate bar among Aussie sweet tooths.
Nor is the brand the first to apologise for mislabelling Asian regions as countries in fear of losing a large consumer market.
Back in 2018, Qantas was forced to amend its website to no longer refer to Hong Kong and Taiwan as countries, but rather as Chinese Territories.
That same year, Beijing authorities shut down the website of hotel chain Marriott in the country after a questionnaire referred to Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong as separate countries.
In 2019, French luxury brand Dior was forced to issue an apology after using a map of China that didn’t include Taiwan in a presentation.
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