Underwear Smelling Ad Called ‘Racist’ Against Asian Women – Brand Replies No, it is Not

A bizarre ad campaign spot released earlier this month by a German DIY company that shows an Asian woman relishing the smell of men’s discarded sweaty underwear that she got from a vending machine has been accused of racism.

According to the Daily Mail, a thousand people have signed a petition calling for the company behind it, Hornbach, to apologize for the campaign, which they dubbed ‘Smell of Spring’. Social media has also lit up in protest of its portrayal of an Asian woman.

First, have a look at the ad in question yourself.


Women from South Korea were particularly vocal about the ad with one, who has lived in Germany since 2010, calling it “extremely problematic” in a long series of tweets where at one point she wrote:

“I have nothing against the people who like to smell dirty clothes and thereby be horny. At the same time, I find that it is precisely this sexual freedom of women in the ad that is exploited to encourage white men, not women’s various preferences.”

She went on to say: “This ad can more easily reinforce prejudices about Asians” and that “‘Hornbach knowingly picked Asian women because they are often consumed as sexual exotics with no voice.”


Women in Japan, where stories of men allegedly at one time buying girl’s panties in vending machines still persist, also protested the ad on Twitter.

‘Our ad is not racist’

While most brands would apologize, pull the ad, and try to move on, Hornbach has responded to criticism by saying that charges of racism are unfounded – posting in a Tweet on Wednesday:

“Our ad is not racist. View the ad as a discourse on the increasing urbanization and decreasing quality of life in cities. The smell of the spring only available in vending machines. For everyone. Not only asian people.”

They went on to say Asian women weren’t the only ones in the ads and posted other versions with other ethnicities, and men as well, getting horny from the sweaty underwear.

Hornbach’s reply and sharing of other clips has not appeased some critics with one South Korean woman tweeting: ‘No matter what you say, the ad was inappropriate’.

It certainly was weird, that’s for sure.

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