The Week: HSBC slammed over fake sumo wrestler ad campaign

HSBC, which has long used the strapline "the world's local bank", has been accused of cultural insensitivity after it emerged that the "sumo wrestler" used in its latest ad campaign was in fact an overweight white man called Brian.

Members of Britain's Japanese community have accused HSBC and its agency 141 Worldwide of darkening the actor's skintone and using make-up to make his eyes appear narrow. He is also wearing a Japanese-style wig and a traditional mawashi belt.

A spokesman for HSBC said that only standard photography make-up was used in the shoot and that it was not intended to alter the model's ethnic appearance.

The controversy follows a public outcry after the Spanish Olympic basketball team appeared in a newspaper ad making "slant-eyed" gestures.

A few days later, photographs of the Argentinian women's football team pulling the same pose also appeared on the internet.

Become a member of Campaign from just £51 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an alert now

Partner content