John Bayega has stepped down as a brand ambassador for British cologne company Jo Malone after he was cut out of the Chinese version of an ad campaign he originally conceived and starred in.
The “Star Wars” actor took to his Twitter page to explain the reason for his decision.
“I have decided to step down as Jo Malone’s global ambassador. When I joined the brand as their first male global ambassador last year, I created the short film we used to launch the campaign. It won the Fragrance Foundation Virtual awards 2020 for Best Media Campaign,” Boyega tweeted.
The original commercial is a short film titled “A London Gent,” which showed Boyega walking around his childhood neighbourhood in Peckham as well as a reference to his Nigerian heritage. It also featured a predominantly Black cast.
Boyega continued: “Their decision to replace my campaign in China by using my concepts and substituting a local brand ambassador for me, without either my consent or prior notice, was wrong. The film celebrated my personal story– showcasing my hometown, including my friends and featuring my family.”
Boyega found out about the new commercial after it was put on Twitter. The new ad kept major elements of the original’s script, but replaced Boyega with local actor Liu Haoran (star of the hugely popular Detective Chinatown film franchise), The Hollywood Reporter reported.
This is not the first time Boyega has been removed for promotional material in China. According to Deadline, in 2015, a “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” poster for China left out the actor and co-star Oscar Isaac.
Boyega added: “While many brands understandably use a variety of global and local ambassadors, dismissively trading out one’s culture this way is not something I can condone.
“It’s back to back but I assure you this will be dealt with swiftly. I don’t have time for nonsense. We press on and strong. Stay blessed people.”
Jo Malone had earlier issued a public apology to Boyega stating that it was a “misstep”.
“We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign. John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.
“While we immediately took action and removed the local version of the campaign, we recognize that this was painful and that offense was caused. We respect John, and support our partners and fans globally. We are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward,” Jo Malone said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.