Pocari Sweat companies in China moved to distance themselves from their embattled Hong Kong sister company, which has become embroiled in the ongoing Hong Kong extradition law protests.
The move is designed to appease their angry mainland consumers, who have taken umbrage with Pocari Sweat Hong Kong’s decision to pull advertising from local broadcaster TVB for its allegedly biased coverage of the protests.
Pocari Sweat Tianjin and Guangdong released a joint statement on their official Weibo accounts yesterday. “We are two completely different entities from Pocari Sweat HK Ltd and we feel deep regret for what happened to Pocari Sweat HK Ltd in the special administrative region,” the statement reads.
“We firmly embrace the principles of ‘One Country, Two System’ and Hong Kong Basic Law… We’re against any violent act that harms social order.”
Earlier this week, Hong Kong's former chief executive Chun-ying Leung asked Chinese consumers to boycott Pocari Sweat Hong Kong, accusing it of being unable to “differentiate between right and wrong”.
The Japanese sports drink brand is the latest the become embroiled in the month-long Hong Kong protests against a proposed new law allowing criminal extradition to China.
Leung’s post came after a Messenger post was circulated on Twitter, from a sender named Pocari Sweat HK Ltd, saying: “In view of the current situation, we have made a decision to withdraw the advertisements placement from TVB broadcast stations last week and we will request to withdraw all advertisements on other TVB platforms”, indicating its opposition to TVB's allegedly biased, pro-Beijing coverage of the protests. According to media reports, Pizza Hut has also pulled its advertising from TVB.
The exact date of the post is unclear. Pocari Sweat added that it has “taken a proactive step to urge TVB broadcast station to respond to public concern”, alluding to the severe criticism that many young protesters have levelled at Hong Kong's largest TV station over its coverage.
The post, widely reported by Chinese media, has sparked anger on the mainland. People took to Weibo and left more than 5,000 angry comments on Pocari Sweat's profile.
One user named “天才大魔王W” commented: “Get out of China! Don’t you know which market is bigger, mainland or Hong Kong? Now, we’ll let you know.” Another user named “泰委屈” said: “You should have violent radicals endorse your brand. After drinking Pocari Sweat’s water, they’ll be energetic [enough] to hit the policemen.”
In response, Pocari Sweat HK Ltd yesterday posted an apology on Facebook, saying: “We sincerely apologize that our reply dated July 9 has led to inconvenience.”
However, this apparent climbdown has angered several Hong Kongers too. One Facebook user named "Ambrose Cheng" said: "Thanks for telling us. We will NOT buy any products from your company anymore."
Pocari Sweat said it had no additional comments when reached by Campaign for further details.
Chinese girl group GNZ48, a Pocari Sweat partner, announced on Wednesday they woud immediately stop working with the brand, saying the group “firmly objects to any activities that harm China’s peace and stability”.
Recently, Nike China was also involved in the political incident, announcing its decision to pull a shoe line after its designer supported the Hong Kong protests.