A Chinese ad of jewellery brand, Cartier that is said to depict “romance” between two men is stirring conversations regarding the LGBTQ+ representation in the country.
An advertisement for French luxury products maker and retailer company was released on Monday, just a few weeks shy of the country’s Qixi Festival. On August 25, China will be celebrating an annual event that is similar to Valentine’s Day.
Two men, biking
The ad for Cartier is promoting their jewellery, including signature Trinity ring. The end tag said: “How far would you go for love?” During this one-minute promotional video, the company shows various scenarios and settings of different people. There is obviously a heterosexual couple that begins the ad, there is a group of friends singing in a car, among others. But the one that sparked more attention, the two men who are biking. Could they be in a relationship?
Well, no, at least according to a printed version of the ad on Cartier’s official spot in Alibaba-owned Tmall, a Chinese e-commerce platform, per CNN. The controversial video didn’t include any voice over throughout the one-minute campaign, but there is a description on their online shop which is sort of a non-confirmation. Under the photo of the bikers reads a statement saying: “Father and son are also friends. Bonded by love. Happily sharing life’s journey.” This, to the disappointment of many gay rights activists.
A recent kerfuffle over a Cartier ad has shown that while Chinese consumers have become increasingly open-minded about advertisements featuring same-sex couples, marketers are still reluctant to embrace LGBTQ inclusivity in fear of objections from censors. https://t.co/7ylN4NWG9Q
— SupChina (@supchinanews) August 12, 2020
But if people are to gloss over the official description, the scenes of the two male bikers could really be thought of as couples. It would be normal to think that rings are worn by romantic partners, that could be why many assume it the homosexual relationship between the two. A news site noted that it could be on purpose not emphasized, as “abnormal sexual behaviors” are mostly not allowed in the media in China, which seem to include gay relationships. Though homosexuality is not really illegal in the country, many activists cite public discrimination among the LGBTQ+ community.
Father and son?
So the ad caused discussion in their social media. On Weibo, their version of Twitter, one user even said: “This doesn’t make any sense to me. They look three years part in age at most. Also, I’ve never heard of fathers and sons wearing matching rings.”