Leica says it wasn't behind an ad depicting Tiananmen Square protests

Key Points
  • Leica denies it's behind a promotional video showing photojournalists covering global conflicts, including the Tiananmen Square protests in China.
  • Leica's Brazilian ad agency claims it developed the film with Leica representatives in Brazil.
  • Chinese social media platforms had banned the word "Leica" by Friday morning.
Screengrab from a Leica camera promotional video
Source: Leica | YouTube

A promotional video for camera maker Leica showing photojournalists covering global conflicts — including the deadly Tiananmen Square protests in China in 1989 — has resulted in the company's name being banned on Chinese social media and the marketer denying responsibility for the video.

The five-minute film is called "The Hunt." It depicts photographers covering conflicts, including one capturing images of the "Tank Man," who stood in front of a convoy of Chinese military tanks the day after the Tiananmen Square massacre in which Chinese military attacked pro-democracy demonstrators. That subject has been widely censored in China. The video concludes with the image of Leica's logo.

The ad was released by Brazilian ad agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, according to the South China Morning Post. The agency told the publication it had developed the film with Leica representatives in Brazil and said it "would never harm its huge reputation by creating, producing and airing a work without the proper approval of its client."

The agency said it has worked with Leica in Brazil since 2012.

Leica told the Morning Post the video was not commissioned by the company. Leica and F/Nazca did not immediately respond for requests for comment from CNBC.

By Friday morning, the Chinese social media site Weibo had banned the word "Leica" in Mandarin and English.

Some social media posters wondered whether Chinese tech giant Huawei, which works with Leica on smartphone camera lenses, would be pulled into the controversy. Huawei declined to comment on the video.

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