Sabah Election Introduces Malaysians To Various Uncommon Names

With the Sabah election happening in a week from today, the public has found something particularly fascinating about the recent release of candidates; not Musa Aman being left out, but more towards the list as a whole as Malaysia was once again introduced to the odd world of names in Sabah.

Those who aren’t from Sabah have often been astonished by the unusual name in a multi-ethnic state, but for individuals like retired Sabah Archives director Datuk Datu Tigabelas Datu Zainal Abidin, it has been something that they have grew to get used to.

“It has been difficult carrying this name. In school, I was teased and it was hard for me to make friends but I’ve learned to live with it,” he said in an interview with The Star.

On the other hand, the unusualness of the candidate’s names makes the candidates themselves easy to keep track off as each has their own unique aura.

Among the 400 candidates, one of the memorable names that has caught netizen’s attention so far is Warisan’s candidate for the Bugaya seat, Datin Manis Muka Mohd Darah.

The Semporna Warisan Wanita Chief’s appellation is certainly evocative: “Manis muka” means “sweet face”, and “Darah” means blood in Malay.

Twitter user Hermy Rahim said: “If the opposition pits me against her, I’m definitely not contesting.”

Manis Muka, who is also the incumbent assemblywoman of Bugaya, is set for a six-cornered battle to defend her seat.

Other than that, voters will also be seeing a lot more such as, Undang Tumpong from Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS), Jainudin Berahim from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Riduan Sampai from Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah (PPRS) at the polls.

The Sabah election is set for September 26th and sees up to 447 candidates, including 56 independents who will eventually fight for a spot in the 73 state assembly seat.

8 Slangs that Malaysians Use Everyday

If there’s one thing that we Malaysians do best, it’s creating our own language’s version any given subject.

On top of showing our own unique ways of conversing in everyday subjects, it’s also a great way to lighten up a conversation by turning it in a humorous direction during those ever classic “lepak” or “yumcha” sessions.

As one sentence could contain not one, but a multitude of slang words and abbreviations, non-locals may might find it hard to interpret us or even understand what language we are actually using. 

To put it into perspective, the longest sentence of slang words can be put as “Woi, you want to makan here or tapau back home leh?”; a sentence as such contains three to four slang words and uses up to three different languages.

There are plenty of other slangs used by Malaysians and we’ve compiled a few of them to showcase just how unique language in Malaysia can be.

1) GG/Mampus/Si liao

When facing something bad or when you smell trouble arising, use any of these to express your expectations of bad things in the making.

Example: GG, I haven’t pick up my sister from the airport.

2) Lah/ah

The most uniquely Malaysian slang yet, this can be used at any part of a sentence in literally any way or structure you want to.

Example: Can la, just trust me and be here and 9am tomorrow ah.

3) Abuden

Our own term for “No sh*t Sherlock”, it points out to the obvious when someone asks pointless questions.

Example: Are you thirsty? (When you are obviously drinking)

You: Abuden?

4) Walao eh

Used by Malaysians of all cultures, this term is used to express amazement in both good and bad ways.

Example: Walao, how did you manage to eat 12 nasi lemaks in one go?

5) Wei/Dei/Macha/Eh

That’s how we call our friends instead of using their actual names!

Example: Dei, did you watch the game last night?

6) Syok

Enjoying something? This slang expresses your excitement and love for something that you are experiencing.

Example: Syok wei tonight’s dinner!

7) Nah

This basically means “here you go”; use when passing something to someone.

Example: Nah, you left your bottle in my car yesterday.

8) Wordplay

The best thing about all these slang words is that it’s like a Subway sandwich where you can mix and match any of it to create your own unique sentence.

*Insert own unique example here*

Gender Reveal Parties in an Attention Seeking Community

Life itself is always something worth celebrating, especially if it’s celebrating the birth of a new one.

However, as wholesome as it is, gender reveal parties are, they play a rather dark role in society and also lately, the environment, as the explosion of colors and release of pounds of confetti in the air has finally taken its toll on our planet.

Over the U.S. Labor Day weekend, two expectant parents didn’t get the party they exactly hoped for as they sparked a wildlife that scorched more than 10,000 acres of land in Southern California.

What was a family event used to navigate gender, identity and life transitions, gender reveal parties has become their own mini-industry over the past few years.

Fueled by a never-ending quest of trying to out-do one another as couples, it also presents a bizarre culture of what is considered an attention seeking culture that we live in.

It can all be traced back to 2008, when blogger Jenna Karvunidis cut into a cake at a party, revealing the pink frosting inside it which symbolizes her having a baby girl. Just like that, the modern gender reveal was born.

In a wild bid to please the world of social media, users may go beyond the extremes such as wrestling alligators or even setting off explosions. So, how did it go from as simple family celebration to these? The reason is an attention economy, which uses the currency of views and likes to make the most out of their time online.

It all aligns with the values of an always-on digital consumer, always scrolling for the next best thing to appear on their feed.

The slightest choice to not having a gender reveal also serves purpose towards social media currency as social media influencer Iskra Lawrence announced on Instagram that she would not have a gender reveal – and included sponsored links to a clothing brand in the post.

Parents sometimes choose to ignore the culture and economics that play to these gender reveal decisions; instead of fuelling and celebrating the mystery behind a baby’s gender, perhaps they should also keep in mind to not fuel a forest fire while at it.

History of Sabah Elections in 1200 Words

Sabah, one of the two states we have across the waters from Peninsular Malaysia. Malaysians not familiar with the state think they can drive there from East Malaysia and even think that we are required to have passports to get there; it’s undeniable that some of us at the West don’t know as much as we should about “the land below the wind”.

The nation’s second largest state after Sarawak, Sabah is home to over 1.2 million people consisting of Chinese, Kadazandusuns, Bajaus, Bruneis and Muruts. The Sabah Chinese population is half Christian and half Buddhist while Kadazandusuns are a quarter Muslim and three quarters Christian, like the Muruts population.

With the dissolvement of the Sabah State Assembly on July 30th, the position of Chairman/Chief Minister, who has seen 15 changes since 1963, is again up for grabs. The tables for the 2020 Sabah state elections have shown three individuals, Shafie Apdal of Pakatan Harapan/WARISAN while Barisan Nasional/UMNO are still to decide between Musa Aman and Bung Moktar Radin.

To help prepare for the occasion, here’s a history of what we know about the Sabah elections:

Sabah was led to independence by three political parties, the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Organisation (UPKO) led by Tun Muhammad Fuad Donald Stephens, the United Sabah National Organisation (USNO) led by Datu Mustapha and the Sabah Chinese Association led by Tan Sri Peter Lo Su Yin and Tan Sri Khoo Siak Chew.

Muhammad Fuad Stephens, Sabah’s first ever Chief Minister (1963 – 1964) 

Stephens was Sabah’s first Chief Minister while Datu Mustapha was the first State Governor. Both however, shared different views on how self-governed Sabah should be; Stephens wanted a stronger degree of autonomy for Sabah while Mustapha opt for a watered-down autonomy. The Federal Government at that time, headed by the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) leaned towards Datu Mustapha but Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra maintain a strong relationship with both the Sabahan leaders.

Peter Lo picking up on turbulent times (1964 – 1967)

Stephens was eventually made a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Sabah and Peter Lo of the SCA took up the post of Sabah’s new Chief Minister. As the first Chinese to take the post, he was in charge during one the most turbulent times in Malaysian history as on top of ensuring harmony in a multi-racial state, he had to juggle conflict between the Federal, British and Sabah governments.

Datu Mustapha gets his turn, UPKO is troubled (1967 – 1975)

A few years after discovering oil in Sabah, Mustapha began to demand greater autonomy for Sabah, in which angered Tun Abdul Razak, the prime minister at that time. Stephens who dissolved UPKO to join USNO shortly before, was appointed as State Governor in 1973 and was unhappy with Mustapha for favoring the Bajaus over the majority Kadazandusuns in the political system of Sabah. Now with an agenda, Stephen left his post in 1975 to revived UPKO, but as a multi-racial party, the Sabah United People’s Party (Berjaya).

His list of notable supporters included:

  • Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan
  • Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan
  • Datuk Dr James Ongkili
  • Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili
  • Datuk Ayub Aman
  • Datuk Seri Musa Aman
  • Datuk Anifah Aman

Two prominent leaders also helped formed Berjaya:

  • Datuk Seri Harris Salleh
  • Datuk Ghapur Salleh

Mustapha steps down, Tun Said Keruak steps into the fire (1975 – 1976)

Keruak was the most known Bajau chieftain of Kota Belud and was USNO’s deputy chief. A year after taking the position, Berjaya routed USNO in the Sabah State election and received full support from Kuala Lumpur. Mustapha and Said later crossed over to the opposition, allowing Stephens a return to the hot seat with Harris and Pairin as his deputies. 

However, this was short lived, Stephens, who was just chief minister for a month, and a majority of his State Cabinet perished in an air crash while travelling from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu on June 6th 1976. Survivors included Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Pairin and Harris.

Datuk Seri Harris Salleh outsourcing labor (1976 – 1985)

Dubbed the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad of Sabah, Harris single-handedly modernised the economy of Sabah; during his time, Sabah developed profoundly and was the second richest State in Malaysia in 1985. Harris was also influential in bringing in migrants from Phillipines and Indonesia as he saw them as a good and cheap source of labor.

Berjaya eventually joined a BN coalition while USNO did not, both remained component parties at Federal level. USNO failed to unseat Berjaya in the 1981 which resulted in the return of Mustapha as USNO chief when Said resigned and began supporting the Kitingans at Berjaya. 

The Kitingans eventually left to form their own Sabah United Party (PBS) with Pairin serving as the president. PBS went on to trounce Berjaya in the 1985 state election.

Pairin Kitingan and the defectors (1985 – 1994)

Harris and Mustapha decided to merge and form the Sabah Chapter of UMNO, the country’s main political party, to unseat Pairin. UMNO Sabah was materialised in 1990.

In 1990, Koding and Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, quit PBS to from the People’s Justice Movement (AKAR) which later also became part of UMNO Sabah. More top leaders from PBS quit the party in 1994 to create their very own parties, which in the end became BN members. 

This among other defectors such as Datuk Yong Teck Lee, Tan Sri Bernard Tompok and Tan Sri Joseph Kurup formed Sabah People’s united Party (PBRS) and led to the eventual downfall of PBS. Pairin vacated his post in 1994 after serving the longest term as Sabah Chief Minister

Tun Sakaran Dandai slides into the hot seat, courtesy of familiar faces (1994)

Datu Mustapha’s long time assistant, Sakaran was a Murut-Bajau chieftain from Semporna. It was later revealed that Datu Mustapha, the Keruaks, the Amans, Harris and Sakaran co-engineered the defections and downfall of PBS.

Harries joined UMNO Labuan instead but still remained an important advisor for UMNO Sabah. Sakaran spent a mere few months as Chief Minister before stepping down to pick up the position of state governor, the following chief minister’s past role. 

Sakaran spent just a few months in the role of chief minister before his son took over in the same year.

Salleh Keruak, the first of many in a new system (1994)

At this time, BN had introduced a new rotation system for the Chief Minister’s post. An indigenous Muslim [either Kadazandusun, Bajau, Brunei or Murut] would be Chief Minister for two years, followed by a Chinese Sabahan and finally, an indigenous Non- Muslim [either Kadazandusun or Murut].

Salleh became the first of many rotations that was followed by members of PBRS, Yong Dompok, Datuk Seri Osu Sukam, Tan Sri Datuk Chong Kah Kiat and eventually Musa Aman in 2003.

A new beginning with Musa Aman (2004 – 2018)

With Musa at the post, BN decided to scrap the rotation system as they realised it did not give the Chief Minister enough time to carry out his projects. PBS went on to rejoin BN in 2001; Jeffrey quit PBRS in 2004 and went on to be the chief of the Sabah Chapter of the People’s Justice Party (PKR). The Sabah chapter of Gerakan was formed by PBS opposers led by Datuk Kong Hong Ming.

6 Unlikely Nominees and Winners for the Nobel Prize

Weeks after mediating the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), U.S. president Donald Trump has bene nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, hence, adding on to the list for an unordinary year.

Nominated by Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a member of the Norwegian Parliament, he recognized Trump for his efforts in resolving timely conflicts around the world.

“For his merit, I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other Peace Prize nominees,” Tybring-Gjedde, a four-term member of Parliament who also serves as chairman of the Norwegian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, told Fox News in an exclusive interview.

Since its first recipient back in 1901, Emil von Behring, the Nobel Prize, awarded for outstanding contributions for humanity in chemistry, literature, peace, physics, and physiology or medicine, has its fair share of unlikely nominees and winners throughout time.

Here’s a list of the 5 most unlikely nominations/winners for the Nobel Peace Prize.

1) Adolf Hitler

In January 1939, Swedish Democratic MP Erik Brandt wrote to the Norwegian Nobel Committee suggesting that Hitler be given the Peace Prize; in the letter, Brandt citied the Third Reich’s “glowing love for peace” and dubbing Hitler “the Prince of Peace on Earth” as the main factors to his nomination. Although withdrew later on, Hilter still appears as a candidate in the archives.

2) Benito Mussolini

In 1935, the famed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was proposed, ironically by German law professor and French professor a mere moths before Italy’s invasion on Ethiopia.

3) Joseph Stalin

As one of the victors  of World War 2, Russian leader Joseph Stalin was nominated not once, but twice in 1945 and 1948. The nominations came from Halvdan Koht, a former Norwegian minister and historian in 1945 and by Czechoslovakian professor Wladislav Rieger in 1948, with both believed to come from political motivations. During this time, the contribution by the Soviet Union to the war effort was still fondly remembered and could even be the reason behind the nominations as well.

4) Nobody

In 1948, an obvious candidate was somehow ignored – Mahatma Ghandi, the man who led India’s non-violent movement for independence. He had been nominated 12 times before his untimely death, but was shunned. A Nobel rule says the recipient must be living and the committee did not make any exception even in this case. the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to make no award that year on the grounds that “there was no suitable living candidate”.

5) Yaaser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzakh Rabin

An example of the prize’s flaw at times. The Oslo accords seemed to many was like a good idea at that time, but eventually turned out to be a pit stop for what remains as the world’s longest running conflict.

6) Michael Jackson

The pop icon found himself in the running in 1998, even though many of the child sex abuse allegations against the “King of Pop” had not surfaced at the time, the artist’s message to “Heal the World” did not impress the Committee.

Best of The 8 Tweets from Water-Disrupted Malaysians

A water supply disruption over the weekend saw at least 1.2 million consumers affected in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Gombak and Kuala Langat.

A widespread of unfortunate events, many who were eventually unable to cook or take a shower at home due to this and went to social media to vent out their frustrations.

In the rants, many questions why the problem has come back year after year while others were persistent that the people responsible be charge by the relevant authorities. Other users  were even thinking of suing the organizations responsible.

The perpetrators in the river contamination that led to this – four brothers who run a factory identified as Yip Chee Seng & Sons Sdn Bhd, are currently remanded and will be prosecuted next week.

The factory neglected proper procedure when it comes to storing waste oil and traces of solvent odour was detected flowing into the river as well.

While many were rightfully angry with the water disruption, some took to the lighter side of it to share personal “memes” and jokes to lighten the unfortunate situation of being without water. 

Here are the 8 best tweets we’ve seen regarding the dreaded water disruption.

1) Our top of the list comes from stand-up comedian Dr Jason Leong with his interpretation of the three certain things in life.

2) Living out of the city suddenly doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all, as one user puts it, “can’t relate”.

3) Although without water, the folks at Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN) still found it essential to remind us of the importance of washing our hands.

4) As funny as some of these tweets may seem, the water disruption should serve to educate us about stuff we pour down our sink and if it’s safe for the environment. 

5) Desperate times call for desperate measures, enough said.

6) For some of our Selangor-ians, enough is enough. 

7) It takes a lot to have nightmares about something. Imagine having a water supply disruption in your dreams as well, because it was what this user had gone through.

8) All in all, a message from those who are unaffected by the water disruption to the many who are affected by it.

Why is Mulan Facing a Boycott?

Disney’s live action remake of “Mulan” has faced a bumpy road this year. The long-awaited film was supposed to be released on March 27th, was pushed to July 24th and is set to be going straight to the streaming service Disney Plus in the United States this month. 

Being one of the countries that don’t have access to Disney Plus yet, it finally had its theatrical release in Malaysia on September 4th and is now available in cinemas across the country.

As one of the first major movie releases since the coronavirus pandemic shut down film production and cinemas worldwide, the $200 million reboot served as a silver lining for many at this time, who grew up watching the animated version of Mulan that came out back in 22 years ago in 1998.

However, a recent unearthing of the lead actress, Liu YiFei’s, Weibo account has led to the movie being called for boycott in some countries such as Thailand, Taiwan and also the United States. 

Liu, who stars as Hua Mulan herself, angered fans last year with comments that were reporting supporting Hong Kong’s police, who were accused of violence towards pro-democracy protestors.

Last year, young people in Hong Kong has led months of demonstrations against a law which would allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. The protests expanded to include demands for a democratic reform and also an inquiry into the alleged police brutality.

During a period of unrest the Chinese-born actress Liu, who’s an American citizen, shared a post from the government-run Beijing newspaper People’s Daily on Weibo.

“I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong,” it read.

She went on to receive widespread support on Weibo users in China, but that wasn’t the case for Twitter, which is among the many social media platforms banned in China.

The hashtag #BoycottMulan started to trend, more so during the week of Mulan’s release; Twitter users accused the actress of supporting police brutality and also pointed to the freedom she enjoys as an American citizen.

All coming from the happenings of last year, the law behind the initial protest was dropped. 

In April this year, many high-profile pro-democracy activists were arrested by Hong Kong police and a law deemed “the end of Hong Kong” was passed in June – a law that criminalises many things that could pose a threat to China’s authority in Hong Kong.

Prominent activist Joshua Wong has also since called for “everyone who believes in human rights to #BoycottMulan”.

In China, although viewers have spotted historical inaccuracies in the trailer, a poll created when the trailer came out showed that 115,000 users on Weibo were satisfied with what they saw.

“China finally has its own Disney princess,” as one user put it.

10 Hungry Ghost Festival Taboos to Avoid

With the arrival of September, it is now the Chinese ghost month. The month that our parents explicitly warned us about and have various pre-cautions for.

Canopies will be erected, and triangular flags will be propped up on every signpost and lamppost along roads. The smell of incense will fill up the night sky which may trigger the jeepers creepers in you, making the hair behind your neck stand up uncomfortably.

Noise from late night performances will also ring out throughout the night and your elders, especially your elders warning you of certain taboos to avoid this time of the month.

Here are 10 thing to not do during the month of the hungry ghost:

1) Leave your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice

Our parents hate it, our friends hate it, chopstick etiquettes dictate when whenever we pause or stop eating. Leaving your chopsticks upright in your rice bowl is massively frown upon in the Chinese culture as it’s similar to seeing a pair of joss stick at an altar, it is also believed that passing spirits will mistake your rice bowl as a sacrifice and will possess the diner to devour it.

2) Do not take photographs at night

Macro view of a street in Tokyo at night time, street photography

It is believed that taking photographs of places, especially in dark areas are more likely to result in an earie sight in photobombing phantoms showing up on screen.

3) Avoid late nights out

It’s not a good month to stay out too late as night go-ers are more likely to follow a victim home or worst, possess them.

4) Refrain from sitting in the front row of live shows

Have you ever noticed that at live stage performances, the front row is always left unoccupied throughout the night? The shows are actually meant for wandering spirits and the front row seats are reserved for said spirits; sitting in their seats is believed to bring bad luck or serious ailments.

5) Stay away from swimming activites

According to traditional belief, spirits of those who died by drowning will lurk beneath the waters waiting to drown an unsuspecting living being. This apparently supplies them a shot at rebirth as it basically works like as soul for a soul.

6) Never kick food offerings

Sights of food under trees or at pavements would be a norm this month as it’s offered to any wandering spirit. Stay clear of it in your path as kicking them away may result in an angry spirit that will personally find you punished for your ignorance.

7) Never step on dead people money

Having your foot anywhere near sensitive things such as “hell money” is extremely frown upon, especially by the entities that are set to “receive” them. 

8) Don’t hang out clothes to dry at night

We get it Malaysia’s weather is unpredictable and hanging your clothes to dry indoors may be one of the way to get it done. However, refrain from doing so this month as something else may find that blouse as good looking as you do. On top of that, clothes resemble a human body and may attract spirits to cling on to them.

9) Never turn your head when your shoulder is tapped, or when your name is being called from behind

According to traditional belief, humans have two protective flames, one on each shoulder and turning your head will result in them being extinguished, hence, making you vulnerable to lingering spirits; to prevent that turn your whole body instead.

10) Don’t whistle or make unnecessary noises at night

Wandering spirits may be attracted to whistling as they would think people are calling out to them. Celebrations at night is also best to be avoided because you may attract an unwanted guest.

Uncle Roger Critics Jamie Oliver’s Egg Fried Rice

Famed YouTuber and comedian Nigel Ng have recently returned to reviewing cooking videos, this time of renown chef, Jamie Oliver’s attempt at the classic egg fried rice dish.

Egg fried rice, us Asian love it as it’s one of the best comfort food easily found around this area; a dish not as well-known across the waters in the U.K., one that is unfamiliar with the dish can find it complicated and may find it hard to replicate. However, that wasn’t the case for Oliver though as he may have created an egg fried rice of his own liking instead.

Nigel Ng, acting out his comedic persona, garnered a following since his video reviewing BBC host Hersha Patel’s attempt at the same dish and was already at a bad start when he said “Two second into video and I already see saucepan, “haiya””.

Oliver started the cooking process by whipping out a saucepan, this triggered Uncle Roger early on as he refers to the “wok hay” that is needed to make egg fried rice.

“No such thing as saucepan hay,” he goes on to explain about the use of woks being essential in making fried rice.

Oliver proceeds to pour in the spring onions to fry in the oil and pan.

“You put the spring onion as the last thing in your meal, not the first thing in the frying pan.” He then complained on how Oliver didn’t use garlic instead.

Four words later brought Uncle Roger to confusion, “packet pre-cooked rice”. This did not sit well with Uncle Roger who then educated his audience on the importance of fresh rice.

“You hear sizzling, I hear my ancestors crying.” Uncle Roger said as Oliver tosses the rice in the pan.

Oliver then picked out chili jam from his cabinet.

10 times that’s how many times Uncle Roger said the word “no” upon seeing Oliver drizzle the chili jam around the fried rice dish.

Oliver finished the dish with a splash of water from his kitchen tap and also with crumbled up tofu pieces, yes you read that right.

He then said that Asian culture is used to serving tofu in sliced up pieces, this did not sit well again with Uncle Roger.

“Too wet, no garlic, no MSG, he beak the tofu, it’s all wrong.” Uncle Roger said at the end of the video, putting an end to his own misery.

How Dolce & Gabbana Lost 98% of Their Chinese Market With One Video

Image for post

Dolce & Gabbana is one of the most famous fashion brands in the world. Their clothes have been worn by some of the most recognisable stars on the planet such as Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue, and Madonna.

Firmly established as a top fashion house in the west, their gaze soon turned to lucrative markets in the east, in particular, China. With a population of over one billion, it’s no wonder Dolce & Gabbana were eager to entrench themselves into this market. Especially when it’s reported that 30% of their $1.3 billion earnings in 2017 came from the Asia-Pacific region.

To gain a foothold in foreign markets, companies will usually come up with an ad campaign that introduces them to the local market. One of the most memorable that springs to my mind is when Enterprise rent-a-car entered the UK market.

Their adverts played on the cultural differences between the U.S. and the UK, which helped endear them to the UK public. They were well-thought, funny, and played on stereotypes, but with their tongues firmly in their cheek.

This is a great way to expand your brand into another country, as long as you do it right. Dolce & Gabbana was already well-known in China when they released a series of videos on social media in November 2018.

But what happened next had the opposite effect of Enterprise’s campaign. Instead of bringing the local market on board, they alienated them.

The reason?

Instead of poking lighthearted fun at cultural stereotypes, Dolce & Gabbana overstepped the mark and insulted a whole nation through a poorly conceived ad campaign.

The ad shows a Chinese woman sitting at a table attempting to eat a variety of popular Italian dishes such as pizza and spaghetti. This sounds innocent enough but when you watch the video you can see why it caused an uproar.

The video shows the woman attempting to eat pizza with a pair of chopsticks. She looks confused, prods the pizza to no effect, and then tears a bit of it off and grasps it with the chopsticks.

The second ad is no better, with the woman confronted with a big bowl of spaghetti. Again, she looks at the bowl in a confused manner wondering how to eat it with her trusty chopsticks. Eventually, she twists the chopsticks around the spaghetti and takes a bite.

While the woman is attempting to eat pizza and spaghetti, a narrator speaks in the background. Unfortunately, my Mandarin is limited to two words, so I had to turn to Wikipedia to get a gist of what he was saying.

Yes, this ad campaign is listed on Dolce & Gabbana’s Wikipedia page, that’s how bad it turned out! The narrator is said to speak “with a hubristic and lecturing tone while having sexually suggestive lines.”

Once you’ve watched the video it’s not hard to see why these ads caused such outrage and why it was a marketing disaster. From the Chinese perspective, the videos are patronising and trivialise their culture. After watching it, I felt like it was implying that Chinese people eat everything with chopsticks regardless of how impractical it might be.

From a marketing perspective, I don’t know what Dolce & Gabbana were trying to achieve with these videos. Watching them, you’d have no idea they were a fashion company, you’d assume they were a restaurant or a takeaway company.

I understand what their strategy was. They wanted to show how Chinese and Italian cultures can come together. It was similar to the one that Enterprise employed in the UK. The problem was that Enterprise’s campaign endeared the company to their intended audience, while Dolce & Gabbana alienated it. It also helped Enterprise that British and American culture are a lot closer aligned than Chinese and Italian cultures.

The social media outcry in China was swift, with users accusing Dolce & Gabbana of racism and playing up to stereotypes about Chinese people. To make matters worse, a few days after the company had removed the videos from its social media channels in China, a screen capture of racist comments made by D&G co-founder, Stefano Gabbana, came to light.

In a direct message to an American fashion blog on Instagram, he complained about the removal of the videos and referred to China as the “Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia.” He also said China was a “country of shit,” in his ill-thought-out message.

Dolce & Gabbana released a statement claiming that their account and that of their designers had been hacked, but by then it was too late. A string of Chinese celebrities severed their ties with the company and others withdrew from “The Great Show” event, which the ads had been promoting.

Instead of entrenching its brand in China, the campaign did the opposite. A report found that sales for Dolce & Gabbana were down 98% in the country from the same period last year. The figures are shocking, but when you consider Chinese shoppers are the biggest buyers of luxury goods, it becomes clear how big of a mistake their ad campaign was.

China has a powerful online cancel culture and Dolce & Gabbana felt the full wrath of it. Whether the company can reclaim its position in the country remains to be seen. What the debacle does show is the importance of understanding your target market and the necessity of navigating cultural barriers.

Dolce & Gabbana fell flat on their face in this regard. Had they constructed their ad with a bit more tact, they may have succeeded. However, the ad had all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop.

If you want your brand to go global, the message is clear: put out an ad campaign that doesn’t play up to stereotypes and alienate your target market. Otherwise, you could get cancelled, like Dolce & Gabbana.

By Tom Stevenson