Jo Malone criticises perfume brand for ‘disgusting’ treatment of John Boyega

John Boyega attending The Black Panther European Premiere at The Eventim Apollo Hammersmith London.
John Boyega attending The Black Panther European Premiere at The Eventim Apollo Hammersmith London.

Jo Malone has hit out at the “disgusting” treatment of Star Wars actor John Boyega by the perfume brand which carries her name.

Boyega, 28, stepped down from his role as the brand’s global ambassador after the company cut the black actor from the Chinese version of an aftershave advert he helped to create.

Malone sold the business, which she started at her “kitchen sink”, to Estee Lauder Companies in 1999 and said it retains “none of my spirit and my personality”.

She told ITV show Lorraine that she is “horrified and disgusted at what has been done to John”.

The original advert revisited Boyega’s childhood and his memories of growing up.

Malone said: “This man wasn’t using his image to just promote something – he brought his creativity (to the advert).”

He “brought his life story to people and to that brand and how dare somebody treat him (like that) and he finds out he’s been replaced on social media. That’s the bit that really gets to me,” Malone added.

“It’s the fact they never spoke to him, they never considered for one minute what he would feel like. That for me is utterly despicable and it’s disgusting.”

She said her name had been tarnished and “I feel totally alone” and “humiliated”.

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On Saturday September 12th we released the following statement: “We deeply apologise for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of a recent Jo Malone London marketing campaign. John Boyega is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experience and should not have been replicated. While we immediately took action and removed the local version of the campaign, we recognise that this was painful and that offense was caused. We respect John and support our partners and fans globally. We are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward.” John since took the decision to step down as Global Brand Ambassador. We are incredibly proud to have worked with John and to have had him be a part of our Jo Malone London family. We respect John’s decision, and we wish him all the best. His vivacity and whole-heartedness is present in everything that he does. We will miss him greatly. To clarify Jo Malone CBE left the company in 2006 and has had no involvement in these events.

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The story “has gone global … people think it’s me. If I’d been standing there in those shoes, I promise you, John, this would never have happened,” she said.

Malone, who sold the business for undisclosed millions, said she would “fight” for her “reputation”  after the incident.

And she added: “Jo Malone London, Estee Lauder corporation – this is your mess, clear it up.”

Boyega has said that while he accepted companies use different representatives around the world, “dismissively trading out one’s culture this way is not something I can condone”.

The London-born actor said: “Their decision to replace my campaign in China by using my concepts and substituting a local brand ambassador for me, without either my consent or prior notice, was wrong. The film celebrated my personal story – showcasing my hometown, including my friends and featuring my family.”

The brand had earlier apologised after removing Boyega, saying: “We are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward.”

The recreated advert had replaced Boyega with Chinese star Liu Haoran.

Boyega has been praised for speaking out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement since it was reinvigorated following the death of George Floyd in the US.

In June he stood with protesters in London and delivered an emotional speech in Hyde Park, saying he did not care if speaking out harmed his career.

He recently accused Disney of marketing his character, Finn, in Star Wars as an important figure before pushing him aside.

He said Disney had given more “nuance” to his co-stars and suggested the company did not know how to treat him as a black actor.

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