British luxury label Burberry's first campaign of the year has already landed them in hot water. In what was meant to be a depiction of "togetherness", which is highly prized in Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, the campaign introducing the brand's latest collection roused division instead for being rather eerie.

The Chinese New Year campaign fronted by Chinese actresses Zhao Wei and Zhou Dongyu and directed by American photographer Ethan James Green was unveiled last week. It also includes a family portrait featuring eight stony-faced models across different generations. 

Chinese news outlet Jing Daily has described the campaign as "creepy", also critiquing Burberry's culturally insensitive approach to Chinese culture, highlighting how for some, #BurberryChineseNewYear is "is just another bad taste, tone-deaf instance of Western luxury brands completely missing the point in China."

READ MORE: WATCH: Burberry burns merchandise worth over R1.55 billion to protect its brand

Chinese consumers likened the campaign images to horror movie themes, even quipping that this looks like an unhappy family ready to fight over their grandma's inheritance. 

This is yet another example of how brands continue to misunderstand their target markets, especially with regards to Chinese culture. As Jing Daily notes, "brands’ lack of appreciation of authentic Chinese culture has in recent years caused trouble in their promotion of Chinese New Year products." 

It was only this past November when Dolce & Gabbana's "The Great Show" was cancelled by the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Shanghai for the brand's controversial chopstick eating video series, which perpetuated racial stereotypes. 

READ MORE: Dolce & Gabbana's Shanghai show cancelled over culturally offensive "chopstick eating" video series

This is why members of the Chinese cyber community have opined that fashion brands need to ease up on their eagerness to break into the Chinese market. While these may not be cases of cultural appropriation, they are another form of cultural offense based on surface-level research and gimmicks. 

The sooner brands employ a new marketing tool besides the current "spark outrage for attention" route, the better. 

Burberry has not responded to any of the backlash and their CNY campaign remains live online and on Twitter, but does not yet appear on Instagram. 

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