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Business News/ Auto News / Shanghai auto show: BMW’s effort to cool visitors with free ice cream giveaway turns into hot conflict
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Shanghai auto show: BMW’s effort to cool visitors with free ice cream giveaway turns into hot conflict

Topic BMW Mini was the second most-searched topic on China's social media platform - Weibo. The brand was accused of discriminating the local visitors over foreigns for its free ice cream giveaway.

Topic BMW Mini has over 93 million views on Weibo with users reposting pictures and video of the incident (Reuters )Premium
Topic BMW Mini has over 93 million views on Weibo with users reposting pictures and video of the incident (Reuters )

German automaker BMW was slammed by Chinese internet users on Thursday as the company made headlines in a ice cream controversy. According to reports, Chinese nationals accused BMW of favouring oreign over domestic visitors during an ice cream giveaway promotion at its Mini booth in the ongoing Shanghai auto show.

As per a Reuters report, the topic "BMW Mini" was the second most-searched topic on China's Weibo social media platform. The topic has over 93 million views with users reposting pictures and videos, along with negative comments, of the incident.

According to a local media report, the incident occured on Wednesday.

A video showed two workers telling some local visitors to BMW's Mini booth that the free ice cream had run out. But they can be seen offering a tub to a Western attendee later in the video.

"This has taken away my good feelings towards BMW," said one Weibo commentator.

While a person familiar with the matter, on the conidition of anonymity told Reuters that the booth had finished giving out 300 servings of ice cream meant for visitors when the incident occurred and the foreigner in the video was a BMW employee.

The workers were temporary workers hired for the show, not BMW staff, the person said, declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

BMW did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Mini is owned by German auto giant BMW. The brand later apologised over accusations of discrimination at the Shanghai Auto Show. "Careless management and staff negligence caused unpleasantness for everyone," read the apology by BMW's Mini. The company pledged to improve training of its employees.

Chinese consumers have in recent years more closely monitored the behaviour of big brands, becoming increasingly critical of foreign companies or local businesses over perceived slights or for not respecting Beijing's territorial claims. A similar incident occured in 2019 when Italian luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana saw China sales slow after it faced a backlash for an advertising campaign that was decried as racist by celebrities and on social media. 

(With inupts from agencies)

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Published: 21 Apr 2023, 12:43 PM IST
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