Vancl was penalized for advertising through using images of state leaders

Updated:Tue, May 1, 2012 03:58 AM   By Bernd Chang

Vancl,Online retailer

“Look Up At The Starry Sky” is the title of a poem written by Chinese current premier Wen Jiabao and published in the state-run newspaper People’s Daily in 2007.

Vancl, an online clothing retailer, was penalized for selling politically themed T-shirts and using the images of Chinese leaders over violation of the country’s advertising law.
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April 28, 2012, Beijing - Vancl was critisized by many Chinese netizens and penalized by the authority for advertising its T-shirts using quotes of Premier Wen Jiabao and former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.

Vancl (, an popular Chinese online clothing retailer, advertised on its official website its latest two T-shirts lines that were inspired by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. Even though images of the two politicians did not appear on any of the T-shirts, they were splashed all over the web pages that showcases the two lines, named respectively “Look Up At the Starry Sky” and “Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour”.

In addition, signature quotations of and key words closely associated with Wen and Deng were printed on Vancl’s T-shirts, including “Look Up At the Starry Sky,” “Forget About Me”, “Self-Reflection”, “Independent Character”, “Reform”.

“Look Up At The Starry Sky” is the title of a poem written by Wen and published in the state-run newspaper People’s Daily in 2007. All of the rest of Wen’s quotes are picked from Wen’s emotional remarks this March at a press conference at the end of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress.

Vancl’s introduction of the Wen- and Deng-themed T-shirts was immediately met with controversy and disbelief. The web pages were taken down only hours after its appearance. The products were also pulled from its online shelves. Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce, a watchdog government agency, told Xinhua on April 25 that Vancl’s use of national political leaders in its advertising campaign has violated the advertising law that prohibits promotion that features government agencies or figures in the civil service.

While it is not unusual to see the faces of Chairman Mao and other late state leaders on souvenirs, it is rare to see images of incumbent leaders or officials being borrowed by pop culture.

Jiao Hongyu, a Vancl spokeswoman, told Xinhua the advertisement was designed out of respect for Wen, hoping the premier's messages might have a positive influence on today's young people, who are Vancl's back-bone customers.

"We did a Lei Feng (a late heroic Communist soldier) series before and it was very well received," Jiao said. "So when we planned this series, we did not foresee any negative impact it might bring."

T-shirts of the "Lei Feng" series are sold ranging from 29 yuan ($4.6) to 59 yuan a piece. The "Look Up At The Starry Sky" T-shirts, however, have been pulled off from Vancl's online purchasing platform.


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