Singapore restaurant’s promotion featuring Cantonese parents’ insult sparks debate

By Linh Le   June 6, 2024 | 07:00 pm PT
A recent marketing campaign by Crystal Jade restaurant in Singapore has ignited online discussions by offering discounts to customers who say to their children: “Giving birth to char siu is better than giving birth to you.”
A plate of char siu. Illustration phtoo by Pixabay

A plate of char siu. Illustration phtoo by Pixabay

The South China Morning Post reports that the brand launched the campaign to market its barbecued pork dish for Parents’ Day, celebrated on June 1 in Singapore. The promotion gives diners a complimentary plate of char siu, valued at S$15.8 (US$11.7), throughout June if they visit the restaurant with their parents who then recite the phrase in Cantonese in front of the staff.

This phrase is a well-known insult often used by exasperated parents.

The restaurant also published a promotional video where a mother rebukes her daughter for her habits and ends with the phrase, implying that at least char siu is pleasant to eat.

While some online commenters appreciated the humor in the campaign, describing it as "super funny" and consistent with typical family teasing that doesn’t lessen parental love, others condemned it as harmful and derogatory.

"It’s super funny," noted an Instagram user, as cited by The Straits Times. "Cantonese families say this all the time, and it doesn’t mean they love their kids any less!"

"It’s so demeaning!" another complained. "Bad advertising!"

Following the backlash, a spokesperson for the Crystal Jade Group commented on June 4 that the campaign was intended to inject humor into the Parents’ Day weekends by using a famous Cantonese expression. The spokesperson acknowledged regret that the campaign had missed its mark with some, leading to dissatisfaction.

This is not the first time the phrase has been used in advertising. In 2018, Hong Kong’s Maxim fast-food chain also ran an ad campaign featuring the same expression, with a son questioning his father: "Am I better, or this char siu?"

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