A London restaurant has apologised for a “totally inappropriate and culturally insensitive” advert following criticism of its depiction of East Asian people.
The Ivy Asia Restaurant in Chelsea has removed an advert which featured two characters dressed as geishas dubbed “the ladies” who are transported to the restaurant on a rickshaw.
Food writer Jay Rayner was among those to criticise the advert, describing it as “premeditated racist stereotyping”.
The women can be seen posing outside Harrods in London
The recently opened London restaurant issued a statement apologising “unreservedly” and the video has since been taken down.
A spokesperson for The Ivy Asia told Sky News: “We would like to sincerely apologise for the offence caused by our marketing video. It was wrong.
“It was done naively and it was totally inappropriate and culturally insensitive. We had a complete ignorance of understanding.
“We are conducting an immediate internal review into our marketing processes and publication guidelines to make 100% sure this does not happen again.
“We need to educate ourselves and we are already looking to engage the relevant external bodies to review concept, culture and all internal and external processes.
“We must learn lessons and move forward in a totally new and appropriate way. Once again, we apologise unreservedly.”
Ivy Asia said it had ‘a complete ignorance of understanding’ over the advert
Jenny Lau, founder of Celestial Peach, a food platform which discusses Chinese cuisine and the culture behind it, said concerns had already been raised online about the marketing of another branch of Ivy Asia.
She said: “Several among the online community had been discussing Ivy Asia’s problematic nature and many had gone on Ivy Asia’s Instagram to criticise their marketing material.
“So the fact that this advertorial video was published after they would have seen all of our comments (and not addressed them) shows the level of disregard and disrespect they have for public opinion.”
End the Virus of Racism, a campaign group which aims to tackle hate against East Asian and Southeast Asian people, said an apology “shows the chain continuing to wash their hands of responsibility”.
The advert has been removed after attracting criticism
Criticism of the advert and its depiction of East Asian people comes after hate crimes against the community in the UK increased during the pandemic.
The Ivy Asia Chelsea is among a number of high-end restaurants under The Ivy Collection, including the famous original in Soho.