Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Oct 6, 2014

Chow Tai Fook faces fallout from deputy PR head's Occupy Central comments

HONG KONG - Jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook is dealing with calls for a boycott today after one of its employees, who has since resigned, made inflammatory comments over the weekend regarding the Occupy Central protests.

Chow Tai Fook faces fallout from deputy PR head's Occupy Central comments

Joanna Kot (葛梅珍), deputy head of public relations for Chow Tai Fook (周大福) for the past two years and eight months, resigned after Facebook comments about people who were assaulted during the protests were traced back to her via her LinkedIn profile.

Kot deleted both accounts and also submitted her resignation yesterday, as this screengrab from the company's human resources department confirms. Chow Tai Fook 's corporate affairs team also confirmed to Campaign Asia-Pacific that Kot quit of her own accord. 

The Facebook comments in question referred to assaults that took place against protesters in the Mong Kok district. Roughly translated, the first comment read: “Assaulted? It’s late by a few days already! You all saw it! If there’s a problem, you [protesters] want the police, if there’s no problem you say they are bad guys. If you’re all that, then leave by yourself. Citizens of Mong Kok are only repaying you in the same way.”

Another post (see below) referred to a female student protester who claimed to have been groped by a middle-aged man. It read: “Molested? Remember not to report to the police; revolution requires sacrifice, fighting for democracy is above the law... Those anti-Occupiers are ‘peacefully’ molesting you. You should be understanding! LOL!”

The brand undertook crisis communications on Saturday, distributing a 'statement of clarification' on all its owned-media channels, including its corporate website, Facebook page, e-shop and WeChat account, the spokesperson said.

"It is with much regret that the words posted by one of our staff members on her personal Facebook account have aroused discontent among members of the public," the statement said. "We hereby clarify that any individual staff’s personal words and opinions have no relation with the company and do not represent the company’s stand."

Staff members have also been instructed to reiterate the official stance and to direct customer inquiries to the team handling media relations and corporate affairs—ironically the team Kot was a part of.

"We have no wish for this misunderstanding to affect the brand," the company spokesperson said.

However, Chow Tai Fook’s Facebook page has recorded more than 2,300 comments since Saturday night. This morning's commentators do not appear to be appeased, with promises to boycott the brand in favour of rival jewellers like Luk Fook.

For example, one Sean Morris wrote, "Well I doubt in hell I'll be buying my two Xmas watch orders from Cho [sic] Tai Fook now! Breitling Aerospace Evo and Omega I'll buy somewhere else."


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