The clip, which was the winner of a contest hosted by the company, shows a female pedestrian, who thinks twice about jaywalking after seeing a poster that reads: "You are not a water deer".
The company had intended for the video, which was posted onto its Instagram on August 1, to simply discourage jaywalking, Lush told Cosmetics Design Asia.
However, the wholesome intention turned sour when feminist netizens criticised the clip as being misogynistic, as the term “water deer” is commonly used as a derogatory term for female victims of traffic accidents.
The company drew more heated criticism when it posted another clip on Instagram shortly after the first.
The animation slip depicted a man carrying flowers and gifts, while flashing text in the background read: "They are too heavy. You carry them”.
Lush, the UK cosmetic brand known for their sustainable and cruelty-free products as well as its keen sense of societal awareness, stressed that it did not intend to send anti-feminist messages.
Juhee Han, Head of Brand Communications of Lush Korea explained that the animated figure was meant to be a “tsundere” character. Tsundere is a Japanese slang for a character who appears unapproachable but is warm and friendly on the inside.
“Tsundere describes a person who acts tough and careless on the outside, but is actually very soft and considerate inside. As you can see in the image, the man brought lots of gifts, including flowers.” shared Han.
Han adds that the male character was never meant to be a boyfriend. Instead, it was deliberately left open ended. “The [character was not meant to be] a girl’s boyfriend, he could have been someone’s son, a friend or even an LGBTQ person.”
Despite the criticism, Lush Korea has chosen to stand by them and their intended messages, choosing not to remove them from their Instagram page.
Brand loyal fans
Despite the videos and the spat of unpleasant press, Lush Korea is confident of their position in the market, thanks to its loyal following.
“We have loyal customers who truly love our values,” said Han. “Some of them even reached out to the public as [unofficial] ambassadors, commenting on articles voluntarily to support us. We do have a trust in our loyal customers and believe that they also will stick around with us.”
She added that Lush Korea was an equal opportunity company that hires based on their skill and character, not their gender.
Aside from that, Lush Korea actively participates in various campaigns, advocating on behalf of animals, the environment, and humans alike. Most notably, they participate in the Korea Queer Festival every year to show their support for gender equality.