On November 17, Huawei announced its latest generation of Freebuds — HUAWEI Lipstick Freebuds. The 266 USD pair of red noise-cancelling headphones come with a black lipstick-shaped case, which is clearly aimed at female consumers.
A woman in the brand’s campaign poster is dressed in red and holding her Huawei Freebuds case like it were lipstick. Image via Weibo
Netizens are not overly impressed with the brand’s new headphone case and the promotions accompanying its launch.
“Does Huawei think that a woman’s image is represented by red lipstick and black stockings? This idea is so old and outdated, and apparently, it comes from a male perspective. Huawei wanted to stand out, but no one thinks they did it right,” wrote a netizen on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo.
Huawei’s latest generation of Freebuds — HUAWEI Lipstick Freebuds. Image via Weibo
Another user agreed that the marketing ploy is a bad idea, commenting, “this is a product no one needs, dreamed up by men. Maybe some men would buy the headphones for their girlfriends, but that could backfire.”
The topic of women’s rights has been trendy these days on Chinese social media, and many brands are eager to satisfy a new wave of feminist clientele. But their efforts are often misguided and frequently result in controversy.
Another recent example comes from the bra brand Ubras, which, in a tone-deaf marketing stunt earlier this year, hired male comedian Li Dan to invite female professionals to buy its bras and “lie flat and win at work.”
‘Lie flat and win’ (tang ying 躺赢) is internet slang meaning ‘success with minimal effort.’ The slogan thus implies that women who wear Ubras could easily succeed in their jobs, but through their bodies instead of hard work.
An advertisement from Ubras. Image via Weibo
The response from netizens was swift and critical, with many accusing the brand of normalizing workplace sexual harassment. Ubras ultimately deleted everything related to the campaign, and Li Dan was fined for violating China’s advertising laws by “posting vulgar and insulting content.”
Irritation with gender-related brand campaigns is not unique to women. Earlier this year, both Intel and Mercedes-Benz faced the fury of China’s male internet users for collaborating with stand-up comedian Yang Li due to her perceived anti-male material.
The online pushback ultimately led Intel to remove its ad campaign entirely.
Cover image via Huawei
We highlight our top stories each week in an email newsletter that goes out every Monday - hot, fresh, and straight to your inbox.
Don't worry, we don't spam
Thousands of earthlings have signed up for our newsletter, and you should do the same