Global Chinese retailer MINISO's branch in Spain has apologised for mistranslating the Chinese cheongsam toy into a Japanese geisha toy. According to the official statement on MINISO’s Spanish Instgram account, MINISO Spain has made a post on Instagram on 25 July upon the launch of the Disney Princess blind box product, and saw consumers correcting the brand's mistake.
“After receiving the users' feedback, we removed the post instantly. We sincerely apologise for this misunderstanding and we will reflect on the damage this has caused to our Chinese friends and all MINISO fans,” said the statement.
The statement added that as cheongsam originated from China and is well known around the world. It added that the brand admires the long historical civilisation and splendid cultural achievements of China. “In the future, MINISO Spain will strengthen and educate our team to ensure that we deliver the right cultural value to the public, and bring better products and consumption experience to our consumers,” it said.
The incident has drawn a large number of mentions across social media channels. Social monitoring firm CARMA saw a total of 35% negative mentions on keywords related to “miniso”, “geisha”, and “qipao”.
However, it seems to have sparked a whole wave of conversations about MINISO’s image, where netizens have shifted their focus beyond MINISO mistaking Chinese qipao dolls for Japanese geisha. “Many disagreed with the brand’s approach to package itself as a Japanese brand in order to increase sales opportunities,” said Charles Cheung, general manager of CARMA.
Cheung also said that the most engaged comment on MINISO’s official Weibo post generated a total of 9900 engagements as of 11 August.
On the other hand, Chinese media organisation people.cn published a commentary on 10 Augus saying: “MINISO, this kind of mistake can't be made". The commentary further said several questions are yet to be answered. For example, it questioned why MINISO responded with a smile emoji instead of correcting it immediately after the translation has sparked controversies.
This isn't the first time the brand has faced controversies. Just last month, MINISO had to defend its position due to the publishing of a short seller report by Blue Orca Capital, which alleged that MINISO lied about its core business model. According to MINISO's public announcement, the retailer said the company believes the report is without merit and contains misleading conclusions and interpretations regarding information relating to the company. It also said its directors and audit committee will be reviewing the allegations and considering the appropriate course of action to protect the interests of all shareholders.
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