Ford’s ‘Skirt-Blowing’ Car Ad Flops in China

An online commercial for Changan Ford, inspired by Marilyn’s ‘skirt-blowing scene’ from The Seven Year Itch, has been pulled after being criticised on social media, the South China Morning Post reports.

“Changan Ford released the advertisement on Weibo [a Chinese micro-blogging site] on Tuesday, with a short video, saying, ‘Is it true that according to Japanese manga, boys run so fast that he can make girls’ dresses fly up? Today with a young sister clad in a white dress here, let’s re-stage the classical scene in Japanese manga,’ the post said. At the end of the post which was aimed to promote Ford’s new SUV, the company said ‘Ruijie Plus (the car’s brand) will glut your eyes’.

Both the original post and the video were removed by the company later the same day after many online criticised the advertisement as ‘vulgar’ … ‘We have realised we are wrong,’ the company said on Weibo. ‘We immediately cancelled what we released and apologised sincerely. This mistake will not be made again in future and we will strictly stick to the online content values.’

While some were critical, others said the ad was not controversial as it was just recreating a classic movie scene … State media Xinhua News Agency weighed into the debate by urging the company not to ‘pursue vulgarity … Advertisement is an art creation work, but it’s not a good creative idea to gain notoriety with shocking words or behaviours,’ said Xinhua.

It’s not the first time that Ford was embroiled in controversy with one of its commercials. In January it released a poster for its electric car containing Chinese characters meaning ‘2021, China, Year of Horse’. The company called this type of car: ‘the most famous horse of Ford’. This was met with anger online as 2021 is the Year of Ox on the Chinese zodiac. The company later deleted the ad online.”

As a similar controversy rages on in Palm Springs over the Forever Marilyn statue, I can’t help thinking that the problem is not so much the original scene, but that these recreations often lack the natural charm that Marilyn brought to it. It was her character’s innocent enjoyment as the subway breeze brushes against her bare legs – and not the lecherous gaze of her male companion – which made the scene so unforgettable, and although it was considered provocative even then (not least by her soon-to-be ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio), Marilyn never regretted it.

“That’s the way they see me – with my skirt over my head,” she mused to Eli Wallach as they passed a giant likeness outside a Times Square cinema when The Seven Year Itch opened in 1955. “She didn’t seem to mind,” the actor recalled. “She accepted it.” In her 1954 memoir, My Story, Marilyn admitted that she was often a target for sexual hypocrisy. “People had a habit of looking at me as if I were some kind of mirror instead of a person,” she wrote. “They didn’t see me, they saw their own lewd thoughts. Then they white-masked themselves by calling me the lewd one.”