The full story was covered here on Campaign Asia-Pacific.
Unfortunately for the brand, its marketing department has decided to ignore the advice provided in the article by social media and branding experts. Instead, Panasonic Beauty Malaysia has chosen to bring the entire event to a halt, likely disappointing the 216 beauty contestants who had been shortlisted.
The public apology, posted below, has only drawn negative responses on Facebook for ignoring the girl at the centre of the furor, Ashley Greig:
"This is Tih Tjun from the Marketing department with Panasonic Malaysia. On behalf of the company, I would like to share our response to the conversations and criticism surrounding our “I Love Myself Beauty Search 2014” contest for the past weeks.
First and foremost, we deeply regret that our contest has been received in such a negative light. The intention of the contest is to encourage girls and women out there to acknowledge their self-belief, and celebrate loving one self.
It was never our intention to perpetuate stereotypes about beauty or discriminate against any specific type of women. This is absolutely not what we had in mind. Having reviewed the mechanics and taking into consideration the feedback we have received, we would like to apologise for not putting clearer contest mechanics and judging criteria into place. In hindsight, we should have had clearer communications surrounding the contest mechanics to reflect the original intention of the contest.
Please also accept our apologies if we have offended anyone or erred in any way possible.
After much deliberation, we have come to a very difficult decision to call off the contest. As the community has rightly pointed out to us, the essence and spirit of the contest has deviated from its original intention, thus it would be difficult for everyone involved to continue on.
On behalf of Panasonic Malaysia, I would like to personally apologise to everyone that took the time and effort to participate, and also to those that voted in our contest. Your effort and feedback is very much appreciated. To show our gratitude to all participants, we will be in touch with you to offer a gift for your contribution.
This experience has been a valuable learning for us as a company operating in a maturing community that is increasingly vocal and concerned with issues that are close to their hearts. We acknowledge and value the community’s views on our contest, and we will relook at how we conduct similar campaigns in the future."
Greig has responded on Facebook stating that while she would have preferred a public apology that addressed her personally, she will be letting the incident go. She has also announced plans to launch a "worldwide campaign about raising awareness of equality in beauty" with a few of her friends.