Briefing: JD.com’s cosmetics unit regrets sexist PR gaff

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JD.com apologises for sexist marketing campaign as Singles’ Day shopping event nears – SCMP

What happened: Just ahead of the Singles’ Day e-commerce holiday, which falls on November 11, JD Beauty made a major faux pas by printing 300,000 express delivery boxes with the tagline: ”Without lipstick, how are you different from a man?” The newly established JD.com cosmetics unit reportedly shipped out around 1,000 of the boxes to customers, many of whom were upset by the tagline. Chinese netizens complained that JD Beauty’s feeble attempt at humor came at the expense of women. The company has since apologized, and on Tuesday announced that it would replace the packages and send a beauty product of an unspecified nature to those who received the offending boxes.

Why it’s important: The public relations misstep comes right before China’s biggest yearly e-commerce holiday, Singles Day. While it’s unclear whether the bad publicity will actually lead to a drop in sales, it does draw unwanted attention to a company still plagued by the scandal surrounding its CEO Liu Qiandong, who was accused of rape in the US. That allegation has deeply worried some investors. The company also reported net losses of RMB 2.2 billion in the quarter ending in June.