The photo above is from “The Hunt” – a five-minute ad by Leica, the German manufacturer of lenses and cameras, which I planned to link in this newsletter. Unfortunately, it has since then been taken down by Leica in a move to appease the authorities in China (the same country that currently runs an opera about the current president of the US, just to make it clear).
South China Morning Post has this story
on the subject, and I have two thoughts to share:
1. That a big German corporation (Leica) and their fancy international ad agency (Saatchi Saatchi) are able to produce – by accident! – a film that features the Tiananmen Square massacre at the same time as Leica and Huawei (a patriotic Chinese company) roll out a new mobile phone around the globe, speaks volumes about the lack of understanding the cultural context among the teams at these organisations.
I could understand a deliberate act, a provocation, but seeing Leica take down their own film and issue a lame “we didn’t really endorse this film that features our logo prominently” explanation is telling of a screw-up.
2. That 100+ year old company Leica, with its 1,600 employees, would redact itself globally
based on the reaction from the Chinese government is indicative of the truth of the old saying about capitalists fighting with each other over the contract to supply the rope on which they will be hanged (a discussion on the origins of this saying is here
Personally, I’m not a Chinese citizen and while I respect and even support certain Chinese rules (e.g. not making jokes about comrade Xi in video games and, moreover, not making hidden
jokes), I’m fine with different people having different takes on certain subjects. California recently had a monument dedicated to the massacre at Tiananmen Square set up
, and just yesterday a monument to Liu Xiaobo got unveiled
I don’t think I’ll choose to crusade against the Communist Party of China with the wealth of my multibillion-dollar company. But if my studio strongly felt against something – for example, the irreparable damage caused by the Chinese clam-boats to the southern sea, or the similarly horrible disaster caused by Russia’s oil companies spilling oil in the taiga, – I’d be ready to take a stand and lose some revenue (having said that, though, I’m really lousy at capitalism, as evidenced by the Summit remaining a not-for-profit event after all these years).