Minnie Wang
Aug 29, 2022

Chinese tea brand angers working mothers with misleading copy

A social media post on Red was called out for discriminating against working mothers, and it forced a new coffee brand to empty its online store on Douyin.

Chinese tea brand angers working mothers with misleading copy

On August 24 2022, a working mother shared a post on her Red (Little Red Book) account with a photo of a drip coffee bag from a new Chinese brand called “Banhetian” (半盒田). She is upset because of a sentence printed on the coffee bag stating, "Every working mom owes her children an apology".

Soon, it triggered a storm of criticism on Chinese social media and became a hot topic on Weibo: “Banhetian Coffee was accused of discriminating against working mothers” ( #半盒田咖啡被指歧视职场妈妈# ). Chinese netizens were angry, questioning why working mothers were being shamed, and why working fathers shouldn't similarly "apologise" to their children.  

(L) Red Post (R) Netizens comments on Weibo

The next day, the brand responded that “the text is indeed controversial”. The brand will follow up and make certain adjustments(#半盒田咖啡回应被指歧视职场女性#). 

According to Chinese media, the brand further explained that the copy was part of a series of drip-coffee bags that featured daily slogans printed on the back of the bag. On Friday, they hoped working mothers could spend more time with their children. 

In a statement on Weibo, the brand apologised and expressed understanding of working mothers' dedication. “We appreciate the attention, criticism and supervision from the media and the public”, the brand said in the statement. The brand promised to change the packaging by late September. It also said sorry to the working mothers for the wrongdoing: “we cannot speak for you". The official Weibo account of Banhetian Coffee only has a few followers and only one post at the moment.  

A Chinese influencer specialising in PR communications shared his point of view online and analysed the crisis management of this new coffee brand. The new brand deleted all its posts on Douyin. He believes that Red is not just a social media platform for online shopping; the platform has become the first place where this new brand faces a crisis. He believes that brands—especially new ones—should be careful about gender topics in ads. 

Seperately, in May, Audi and M&C Saatchi were accused of plagiarism by a KOL in China. M&C Saatchi produced the video. The incident ended as M&C Saatchi, Audi, and brand ambassador Andy Lau apologised, and the KOL did not claim compensation. 

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