South Korea’s largest dairy producer has faced furious backlash after its latest advertisement featured a man secretly filming a group of women — who were then depicted as cows.
In the ad for Seoul Milk, a man is seen walking through the countryside with a camera and hiding in a bush.
“We finally managed to capture them on camera in a place of pristine cleanliness,” a male voice-over is heard saying as the women perform yoga and drink from a stream.
The women are then startled and turn into cows when the interloper steps on a twig.
The ad ends with the words “Clean water, organic feed, 100 percent pure Seoul Milk. Organic milk from an organic ranch in the pleasant nature of Cheongyang.”
The creepy commercial was uploaded on Seoul Milk’s official YouTube channel on Nov. 29 and quickly went viral, with many viewers complaining that it was demeaning and amounted to the voyeuristic crime known as “molka,” which means “secret camera,” the BBC reported.
“Humans shall never be described as cattle and spycamming can never be used as advertisement material. I’ve realized how much gender-insensitive the company is this year,” the person added.
Seoul Milk declined to comment on the agency that created the spot, but an official from the parent company noted that six of the eight people seen in the ad were actually men and not women, the news outlet said.
The company then apologized for the off-color ad in a statement.
“We sincerely apologize to everyone who felt uncomfortable with the milk commercial released on 29th last month,” Seoul Milk’s parent company Seoul Dairy Cooperative said.
“We are accepting this matter seriously and will conduct an internal review, and take extra care to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. We bow our heads in apology.”
But this isn’t the first time the milk maker has come under fire for a tone-deaf campaign.
In 2003, an ad featured naked women scraping yogurt off each other at an event to promote the launch of their new products.
Seoul Dairy Cooperative’s marketing manager, the PR agency’s head, the director of the event and the models were all fined for obscenity.