Nars Cosmetics is facing a severe backlash in China following its invitation to a Taiwanese actor infamous for a 2014 drug bust to the beauty brand’s recent new product launch.
Less than one year since its official entry into China, the Shiseido-owned division is in the middle of a public relations nightmare after inviting Taiwanese actor Kai Ko, to show up in a Taiwan-based NARS event on June 29. He was detained, along with Jaycee Chan, son of Jackie Chan, by the Chinese police for marijuana use four years ago.
Ko posted an event photo featuring himself on Instagram to thank the brand for its invitation, and that angered the public. Online users in China immediately flooded the brand’s official social media Sina Weibo account with dozens of posts criticising the collaboration and threatening to boycott NARS Cosmetics for this “misjudgment”. It was a top-ten trending topic on Weibo.
On July 1, the brand issued an official apology, expressing its deepest regret for working with this celebrity and hoping Chinese consumers will continue to support NARS cosmetics. Taiwan’s media outlet United Daily News also reported that NARS asked Ko to delete his social media posts on the event on Sunday.
While the United States has gone on a legalization tear with marijuana, China is moving in a completely opposite direction on this matter.
In 2014, the Chinese government issued an order that permanently blocked Ko, and any other celebrity who has been involved in drug issue, from participating in TV shows and commercial events in mainland China.
Back in 2011, Ko rose to the fame after starring in the award-winning Taiwanese film “You are the Apple of My Eye”.
NARS Cosmetics’ apology did not calm down the crowd. The majority of over 15,000 comments under the apology letter expressed their disappointment and frustration about the brand by the time of this publication.
“Please report our complaint to your headquarters in Japan and ask them to apologize, otherwise, we will continue boycotting you!” wrote a user named “Sappire_lens”.
Another user followed, “even though I really like Nars’ products, I decided to unfollow it forever because working with someone who has a drug issue has gone too far.”
NARS Cosmetics officially entered the Chinese market last September and rolled out an ambitious expansion plan to open four stores, one each in Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, and Nanjing. Before profiting from affluent Chinese consumers, the recent crisis just gave the brand a big lesson on doing business in China.
–This article originally appeared on Jing Daily.