Prada drops Chinese brand ambassador following surrogacy controversy

Prada has cut ties with Chinese actress Zheng Shuang after the latter was recently embroiled in a surrogacy controversy. The Italian luxury fashion house announced on Weibo that it has terminated all partnerships with Zheng Shuang but did not provide additional details. According to Reuters, the move comes one week after Zheng was appointed as brand ambassador.

Zheng was accused by her former partner, Zhang Heng, for attempting to abandon the two young children who the couple conceived via a surrogate in the US. According to Reuters, Zhang alleged that Zheng "lamented that the children could not be aborted" and he was eventually stranded in the US as he had to care for the two children who were born in 2019 and 2020. It is becoming a common trend for Chinese couples to have surrogate children in countries such as the US since surrogacy is banned in China, the report added.

Following this, Zheng came under fire from Weibo users who called her "irresponsible" and "vicious", Reuters said, and over the past three days, she became the top trending topic with 600 million views and over 100,000 comments. Users also reportedly commented on Prada's Weibo account, mocking the brand for bringing Zheng on board.

Meanwhile, Prada's recent Weibo announcement had 135,650 comments, with some asking the brand to appreciate the brand ambassadors it currently have. Meanwhile, some requested Prada to explain why Zheng was chosen in the first place. One even mocked Zheng for being the shortest-running brand ambassador in history. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Prada for comment.

Prada joins other global brands that have succumbed to public pressure in China over the years, with Chinese consumers not being shy about voicing their expectations on brands. Last year, Balenciaga copped flak for its gaudy ad featuring its limited-edition Hourglass handbags in celebration of Chinese Valentine's Day. The campaign picture on Balenciaga's Tmall store shows a male model handing a female model a red Hourglass handbag with the Chinese words "He loves me" written on it. The ad was criticised for being "tasteless" and "unfashionable".

At the same time, Burberry was also criticised for unveiling a Chinese New Year campaign in 2019 deemed too "sombre" and "horrific". One of the campaign images posted on Burberry's Twitter page featured eight solemn looking models across generations posing for a family photo in Burberry outfits. Dolce & Gabbana too were in the crosshairs of the Chinese online firing squad after being accused of racism in 2018.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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