Over the weekend, Ivy Asia has been outed across social media, and today in the national press, for its insensitive promotional content shared across its platforms.

The video, which has now been removed by Ivy Asia, showed two Asian women in geisha costume going through what has been described by many as a ‘Little Britain style sketch’ whilst traveling to the Ivy Asia Chelsea.

The pair then arrive at the restaurant, where all of the guests are notably white and shocked at the arrival of the women. 

Restaurant critic Jay Rayner tweeted “It’s the grotesque racist stereotyping of an entire set of cultures being used to sell that food.” 

The main outcry across social media has been ‘who signed this off and why!?’

No Such Thing as Bad Press?

Many people may argue that there is no such thing as bad press, and with the Ivy Asia now being spoken about in almost every national newspaper, brand awareness is certainly high.

However, in an age where ‘cancel culture’ is booming and society is pulling together to make a stand against racism, it is very hard to find the positivity in this story for the brand. 

Ivy Asia has now apologised in a statement across their social media pages saying “It was wrong. It was done naively and it was totally inappropriate and culturally insensitive.”
But is this enough? 


A promotional campaign like this goes through many levels of checks. From ideation to client sign-off at every level. Which is where the question arises, how did this campaign make it as far as the social media page of one of the UK’s biggest restaurant groups?

What can we learn?

As comms professionals, we need to take stock of this and make sure that we take action to ensure a mistake like this isn’t made on our watch. 

Communication is key. Many companies have taken steps to ensure their teams are more diverse, but are we listening? I am sure there were multiple people who questioned this video, but perhaps didn’t feel like their voice was strong enough to stand up in a room against the decision makers. Your voice is always important. If you are the decision maker or the manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure everyone feels like their voice and their opinion is valid and heard.

If your brand or target audience is from a different cultural background to you, take the time to immerse yourself in that culture and learn from it. London is full of diversity, and full of people who are happy to share their knowledge and experiences. 

“We had a complete ignorance of understanding.” is the statement made by Ivy Asia. As PR and Comms professionals, we cannot afford to have an ignorance of understanding. Our eyes and ears need to be open at all times, absorbing, learning and understanding what is going on in the world around us. 

For more information on the PR services that Posh Cockney offer and how we can help your brand to communicate, get in touch with us today.