Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is under fire for an advertisement evoking the 1945 nuclear attacks on Japan. The company has since deleted the video and apologized on its Japanese Twitter account.
“We included content in the campaign that was inappropriate,” the statement said. “We will strive to prevent this from recurring in the future.”
The ad was intended to promote Xiaomi’s latest smartphone line, the Redmi Note 9 series, internationally. Around 45 seconds into the two-minute commercial, the ad shows a Caucasian man inflating into a balloon after eating a piece of sushi. After bursting through the roof, the man explodes into a mushroom cloud over a Japanese cityscape.
The imagery, apparently aimed at promoting the phone’s “fast charge” feature, has been ridiculed for its tone-deaf allusion to Fat Man — the code name of the atomic bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki during World War II.
While some Chinese netizens have condemned Xiaomi’s promotion as insensitive, others have sung its praises and called the company patriotic on microblogging platform Weibo.
The now-deleted Fat Man ad is Xiaomi’s second publicity debacle in as many weeks. On April 25, the company’s vice president Chang Cheng made headlines after suggesting that the camera for a Xiaomi phone marketed to students could be used to zoom in on a basketball player’s crotch or spy into women’s dormitories. He later apologized.
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: A screenshot from Xiaomi’s commercial promoting the Redmi Note 9 series.)