British perfume brand Jo Malone has apologised to actor John Boyega for cutting him out of the Chinese version of an advert he created – despite Boyega being the ‘global ambassador’ for the company.
The Star Wars actor only discovered what had happened when the new version of the advert was posted on Twitter.
Boyega came up with both the concept and direction of the advert, which was titled ‘A London Gent’.
It showed the evocative power of scent via Boyega being transported to his childhood and his neighbourhood in Peckham. Nods were also made to his Nigerian heritage, with the final clip featuring real-life family and friends.
For the Chinese market, Jo Malone kept Boyega’s deeply personal ideas but replaced him with actor Liu Haoran.
The brand has subsequently apologised to Boyega for the “misstep”.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, they said:
We deeply apologise for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign, John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction.
The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.
While we immediately took action and removed the local version of the campaign, we recognise that this was painful and that offence was caused.
We respect John, and support our partners and fans globally. We are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward.
The incident has sparked a conversation about the exploitation of Black labour and creativity.
People were floored by how good the original advert was – and believed that Boyega’s work had been “stolen”.
The brand was accused of racism.
Prominent beauty journalists also asked why the UK industry press hadn’t picked up on the change.
Others said Boyega’s ad would have made them buy into Jo Malone – until they discovered how he’d been treated.
What a shame.