Dior fears boycott over Stone gaffe
By Geoff Dyer in Beijing
FT, May 29 2008
Christian Dior was yesterday scrambling to avoid a Chinese
consumer backlash after the actress Sharon Stone, who is a
model for the group, suggested the Sichuan earthquake might
have been retribution for Beijing's policies in Tibet.
The luxury goods group has apologised to its Chinese
customers after the 50-year-old American actress said the
earthquake two weeks ago, which has killed at least 68,100
people, could be the result of "karma".
In a statement yesterday from its China headquarters, Dior
said: "We absolutely disagree with her hasty comments and
we are also deeply sorry about them . . . We will never
support any opinion that hurts the feelings of the Chinese
Dior in Paris declined to comment.
Ms Stone made her comments during a visit to the Cannes
film festival last week, when she told a Hong Kong TV
channel: "And then all this earthquake and all this stuff
happened, and I thought, is that karma - when you're not
nice that the bad things happen to you?"
She also said that she was "unhappy" with the way that
China was dealing with Tibet.
The comments gained wider attention after the footage was
posted on YouTube and similar video-sharing sites,
prompting a wave of indignation among internet users in
The incident is potentially damaging for Dior, which has
made heavy use of images of the actress since she signed in
2005 to be the face of its Capture Totale skincare line. An
official at the company's China office said it had already
been inundated with complaints.
A Beijing newspaper reported yesterday that photographs of
the actress had been taken down from Dior branches in
several of the city's malls. Dior has 68 outlets in China,
including 11 in the capital.
The criticisms of Dior follow the uproar in China in April
after pro-Tibetan demonstrators interrupted the Olympic
torch relay in Paris. The incident led to a call to boycott
French goods, as well as protests outside a number of
Carrefour supermarkets in China.
The Cannes interview also prompted a strong reaction
against Ms Stone from the Chinese film industry. Two
companies operating cinema chains in mainland China and
Hong Kong said they would not show any films featuring the
actress, while the Shanghai International Film Festival
said it would withdraw her invitation.