Candy giant apologizes to China
Mars Wrigley posted an apology on Friday after it marketed a new variety of Snickers bar as available in the “countries” of South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan. According to Beijing, the company amended its social media posts and affirmed China’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
In a series of social media advertisements earlier this month, Mars Wrigley promoted a new line of Snickers packaging adorned with lyrics by South Korean boyband BTS. The limited edition wrappers would only hit the shelves in South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan, a video ad explained.
The ad quickly went viral on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, with users pointing out that Taiwan had been listed as one of these three “countries.”
While Taiwan has governed itself since 1949, Beijing claims sovereignty over the island. The US formally acknowledges this sovereignty (the ‘One China’ policy) but maintains informal relations with Taipei regardless. Tensions between China and the US are currently at an historic low, after a visit to the island by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week, which Beijing condemned as “a serious violation of the One China policy” and responded with large-scale military exercises, trade restrictions on Taiwan, and sanctions on Pelosi and her family.
China also cut ties with the US in a number of key areas, including climate change, maritime security, and other military sectors.
Amid an outcry on Weibo, Mars Wrigley apologized on Friday, stating that it would wipe any mention of Taiwanese nationality from its ad campaign. Chinese diplomat Zhang Meifang said that the company insisted it “respects China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Snickers on Fri apologized for marking #Taiwan island as a country, saying local team has verified & aligned the official site&social media accounts to ensure accurate content. Snickers owner Mars Wrigley said it respects #China's natl sovereignty and territorial integrity. pic.twitter.com/yDXflMaro0— Zhang Meifang张美芳 (@CGMeifangZhang) August 5, 2022
Home to an estimated 1.4 billion people, China is a huge market and Mars Wrigley isn’t the only global brand to bend its knee to Beijing in response to a public outcry.
Among the dozens of corporations who’ve apologized to Chinese consumers in recent years are Dior, for sharing a map of China that excluded Taiwan; the National Basketball League (NBA), for a tweet by Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey supporting the 2019 Hong Kong protests; and Swarovski, Calvin Klein, McDonalds and Delta Airlines, all for referring to Hong Kong or Taiwan as independent countries.