A Burberry advertising campaign fronted by Chinese actresses Zhao Wei and Zhou Dongyu celebrating "togetherness" to usher in the Chinese New Year has been ridiculed as "creepy" on social media.
Shot and directed by photographer Ethan James Green, one of the campaign photos posted on the fashion powerhouse's social media sites last Thursday had eight unsmiling models, including Zhao and Zhou, posing for a "family" photo donned in Burberry's classic signature items and streetwear pieces.
The photo lacks the festive cheer typical in Chinese New Year-related fashion shots. Accompanying the photo was the message: "Introducing our new collection, curated for #BurberryChineseNewYear."
"A portrait of togetherness, gathering the cross generations of family for a seasonal celebration. Starring #ZhaoWei and #ZhouDongyu; directed and photographed by @EthJGreen."
Lost In Hong Kong star and businesswoman Zhao, 42, said in a statement: "The campaign draws on the concept of families reuniting for the most important holiday of the year, and represents a sense of belonging, but in a very fresh way."
Her fellow Burberry brand ambassador, Zhou, said: "A family portrait is a very simple concept, but the ceremonial sense behind it holds so much more."
"For me, being able to go home once a year to spend quality time with my family is something I value above all else, and I wouldn't trade it for anything," said the 26-year-old star of This Is Not What I Expected.
But the ad's festive message was certainly not that obvious to some netizens on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. Said one user, Ha Pi Zou Jiang Hu: "What a creepy family portrait. It looks like a horror movie."
Another user Angelique commented on Burberry's Weibo page: "Am I the only one to say pulling a long face does not go well with the Chinese New Year?"
"This is a group of people who plan to kill this ultra-rich grandma and keenly fight over her inheritance," wrote miaomeili.
Still, some netizens applauded the British luxury label's rendition of the Chinese tradition.
"BurberryChineseNewYear's return to tradition is timeless," said love zhen shan mei.
Weibo user Juuudy Zhu said she was "really sick of seeing a happy Chinese New Year". "The Spring Festival is not just a false appearance of bliss, I see a big label with a global vision viewing the Chinese festival with a more tolerant perspective."
Brands such as Burberry, Gucci, and Hermes had reported resilient appetite from Chinese shoppers in the second quarter last year even as China-US trade tensions cast a pall over the broader economy.