John Boyega has already shown us that he will not sacrifice his own morals for money, branding nor access to the Hollywood industry.
Well this past weekend, the establishment tried it in what appeared to be yet another attempt at erasing Black talent (which, sounds familiar, in his case). British perfume and scented candle brand Jo Malone London came under fire when it released an advertisement video as part of its campaign. The ad, which starred local actor Liu Haoran (Detective Chinatown) for the Chinese market, was actually a replica of a previous ad conceived, directed by and starring Boyega.
Titled London Gent, Boyega’s commercial short film depicted a deeply personal and artful reflection of his life, friends, family and home in Peckham, London. By switching out Boyega, this decision further perpetuated anti-Black sentiment in China. That part is horrible enough, but to take his entire concept, as well?!
We’ll let the visuals speak for themselves.
This is Boyega’s ad:
This is the replacement ad:
A side-by-side comparison reel made the rounds on Twitter, as well, to drive the point home.
“We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign,” Jo Malone London said in a statement via The Hollywood Reporter. “John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.”
The fragrance brand also confirmed that the local version of the ad campaign had been removed.
“While we immediately took action and removed the local version of the campaign, we recognize that this was painful and that offense was caused,” the statement continued. “We respect John, and support our partners and fans globally. We are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward.”
As it was all happening, some noticed Boyega hadn’t said anything, but on Monday, he certainly spoke his piece on Twitter, confirming that he’ll be stepping down as Jo Malone’s global ambassador. He was their first male ambassador.
“Their decision to replace my campaign in China by using my concepts and substituting a local brand ambassador for me, without either my consent or prior notice, was wrong,” Boyega wrote on Twitter.
“While many brands understandably use a variety of global and local ambassadors, dismissively trading out one’s culture this way is not something I can condone,” he continued. “It’s back to back but I assure you this will be dealt with swiftly. I don’t have time for nonsense. We press on and strong.”
Jo Malone officially responded to Boyega’s announcement on their own Twitter account noting, “John Boyega is an incredible talent, artist and person and we were proud to have him as part of our Jo Malone London family. We respect John’s decision and we wish him all the best.”
Well, there you have it.