How a Dressing Room Sex Tape Affected Uniqlo's Brand in China

Is All Publicity Good Publicity? Maybe Not, According to a Survey from YouGov

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In China last month, social media feeds were buzzing about a sex tape shot in the mirror of a dressing room at Uniqlo in Beijing. Millions of people watched the video, which showed a guy in glasses holding up a smartphone to record himself and a naked long-haired partner in the mirror. The Japanese retailer made an appearance when a voice came on the intercom welcoming customers to Uniqlo.

Police took five people into custody in the case, according to state media. The Cyberspace Adminsitration of China, which controls internet policy, condemned the video as a "serious violation of core socialist values." When some people wondered if it was all a marketing stunt, Uniqlo quickly said it had nothing to do with the video, and Tadashi Yanai, chief executive of Uniqlo parent company Fast Retailing Co., told the Wall Street Journal that the tape was "disgusting." China is a fast-growing market for Uniqlo, and it's opening 100 stores a year there.

So how did the sex tape affect Uniqlo's brand locally? Polling agency YouGov took the pulse of 5,204 internet users – and if what people say in such surveys can be believed, purchase intent declined overall following the incident. (The poll wasn't commissioned by anyone; YouGov says it conducts surveys from time to time on hot current issues.)

Predictably, maybe, men reacted more positively than women. A quarter of men said it increased their purchase intent, while for a third of women it dropped. About 11% of men and 8% of women said the steamy tape "enhanced their perception of the brand as a young and energetic brand."

Credit: YouGov