‘Replacing John Boyega on a Chinese perfume advert has rightly caused a stink’ – Eva Simpson

'Replacing John Boyega on a Chinese perfume advert has rightly caused a stink' - Eva Simpson

LUXURY fragrance firm Jo Malone wanted worldwide publicity when they hired Star Wars actor John Boyega to be a global ambassador.

And boy did they get it this week – but for all the wrong reasons.

In a move that even 80s’ jeweller Gerald Ratner would have blushed at, it emerged the company airbrushed Boyega out of an advert that was shown in China.

The commercial was written by the London-born star and was about what the city meant to him. It featured his family and friends hanging out in Peckham where he grew up.

They too were ditched and replaced by local actors. To add insult to injury, Jo Malone didn’t even have the courtesy to tell him. He found out on social media.

Proving he is a man of integrity, Boyega resigned immediately. Who can blame him?

Loads of people have said it’s common to replace actors in different territories – that’s fine, we get how that works. But what I don’t understand is why sign up someone as a global ambassador and not use them globally?

To me, this is a clear example of what happens when companies pay lip service to diversity but don’t really practise what they preach.

They want to appear as if they are really woke and care about being representative, but in reality it’s just a tick-box exercise to make themselves look good on the outside. Behind closed doors it’s a different story.

If they’d had any integrity, the company, owned by Estee Lauder, would have doubled down on using Boyega in China, given its dubious record when it comes to its dealings with black communities, and really stood by their man when the ­suggestion came to replace him. That would be powerful.

They didn’t, and are now rightly facing a backlash.

The only person to come out of this with their reputation intact is Boyega, who, along with Lewis Hamilton, is emerging as an influential young man and a positive force for change – someone we should all be proud of.

He should launch his own range of fancy smelling perfume. I, for one, would be queueing up to buy it.

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