According to the Hollywood Reporter, Boyega was replaced in a repackaged version of the British brand’s ad with popular Chinese actor Liu Haoran.
The company regretted the move, calling the move a “faux pas” in a lengthy statement to the Hollywood Reporter.
“We deeply apologize for what on our side was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign,” representatives of the brand said. “John is a great artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept of the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been reproduced.
The 28-year-old was named the brand’s first global male ambassador in 2019 and provided additional context on the creative vision behind the campaign in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily.
He said, “There’s a mixture of things you see me doing in this movie. You see me in a professional environment on a film set, then with my family, and it’s about freeing yourself from the concept of “going back or going back to your roots”, but no longer the existing roots with this new facet of my life.
In the repackaged version, Chinese actor Liu can be seen hanging out with friends and riding a horse, identical to the one Boyega rides in his version of the commercial.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Boyega was unaware that his concept had been lifted and repackaged for a Chinese audience and only found it on social media. The company spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter that he “immediately” decided to remove the edited ad, but admitted the damage was still being done.
“We respect John and support our partners and fans around the world. We take this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to move forward better, ”the statement read.
This is not the first time that Boyega has been erased or downplayed in the Chinese market. In 2015, promotional material for Star Wars: The Force Awakens featured images of the actor which have been significantly reduced in size despite being a part of the core cast.
People online have criticized Jo Malone London and accused the brand of indulging in anti-black sentiments despite public support for the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd’s death.
One user highlighted the similarities by placing the two ads side by side and accused the brand of scamming Boyega’s creativity.
Some people questioned decision making.
Boyega has been very vocal in using his platform to highlight systemic racism and has previously suggested that his outspoken stance could be at the cost of his career.
After giving an inspiring speech at a Black Lives Matter protest in London in June, he told BuzzFeed News: “I am just dedicating my life and my creative time and everything to making sure that we are part of something that will exist after protests – exists after we have times of excitement and fire to make changes. “