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No such thing as bad press? CEO apologizes after comparing Apple to Hitler

apple compared to hitler marketing news
Jia Yueting
Oh dear, this isn’t going to go over very well. The CEO of Chinese media company Leshi Television has compared Apple to Hitler and the Nazi regime. Not just verbally, but also in a cartoon poster teasing the firm’s possible entrance into the world of smartphones. Yes, it’s a cutthroat market, and gaining attention is never easy, but this probably isn’t the best way to get people talking.

Updated on 03-31-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in official statement and apology from Jia Yueting

Jia Yueting took to the Weibo social network, where he has more than 5.5 million fans, to launch his poorly thought out attack, which must have been approved by the company’s PR team at some point, unless Yueting put together the flyer himself. In addition to the poster, he says Apple “curbs technological innovation” because of its closed ecosystem, which “hinders the industrial process and hurts the interest of users.”

After widespread press attention, Yueting issued an official statement and apology on March 31. He said:

“I am deeply sorry for publishing the animation ad on Weibo on Friday. In hindsight, it was a misstep and it has been amended. It was insensitive and wrong to try to use such an image in a lighthearted way. My intention was to express our vision that open-ended technology ecosystems are more beneficial to consumers and encourage true innovation. Please accept my sincere apologies, and thank you for your attention and understanding.”

Apple Hitler Full PosterThe image showed a cartoon Hitler saluting and wearing a red armband, with the Nazi swastika replaced by an Apple logo. The tagline apparently reads something like “crowdsourced freedom vs. arrogance and tyranny.” Yueting doesn’t see Apple’s closed in reign as continuing for much longer, and the picture gives the viewer the non-option of choosing a path that ends with oppression and Apple Hitler, or a group of happy individuals in front of eco-friendly wind farms.

Probably not the best way to get the message across that Android — which the company will likely use as its smartphone OS — is more open than Apple’s iOS software. However, just like many other tasteless or ill-judged marketing campaigns, it has grabbed Leshi and Yueting some attention, even if none of it will be positive.

Rumors of a Leshi, of LeTV as it’s also known, smartphone have been circulating recently. Leaks have said the company has two phones in production, the X900 and X600 — the former of which may have an almost bezel-less screen with a 1440p resolution. An April 2 launch is possible, and the phones are almost certainly only going to be available in China.

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