"I hope that my apology will put and end to them and that any bad reviews will be removed"
Pure Heavenly founder Stephen Conway has apologised for a Coronavirus joke that was criticised for racism.
Last week, the chocolate company, which was featured on Dragon’s Den posted an image with the words, “If the virus did originate from China can we call it Kung Flu?”
The company’s logo and slogan reading “dairy free, 2% sugar chocolate as seen on Dragons’ Den” is seen at the bottom.
Pure Heavenly’s ‘Kung Flu’ joke was far from original. In March, a White House official called the Coronavirus the ‘Kung-Flu’ to CBS reporter Weijia Jiang, resulting in calls of racism.
Commenters on Pure Heavenly’s post expressed their outrage at the “racist” joke.
“You want your brand to be associated with a tone deaf racist trump joke?” Questioned one Facebook user.
Conway has since released an apology regarding the social media post. In an email to Resonate, the British entrepreneur stated that the company did not mean to offend.
“I am the founder of Pure Heavenly and have recorded a video apology regards a recent light hearted post, as no offence was intended,” Conway wrote. “We have lots of social media posts that are a play on words, but now can understand that it could be taken the wrong way and for that I apologise.”
Conway, who received £75,000 from serial investor Peter Jones, said the company has received a backlash from the social media post.
“We have received threats of violence / abuse / and have had bad reviews written by members of the Chinese community,” he wrote. “I hope that my apology will put and end to them and that any bad reviews will be removed.”
In a video uploaded to Pure Heavenly’s Facebook, Conway apologises to the camera for the social media post.
“Sorry for a recent social media post which we thought was funny but the Chinese community took great offence to and let us know in no uncertain terms,” he said, adding the he can “now understand why they probably felt that way and as a result we took it down immediately.”
“This is just to say sorry for it being offensive when we didn’t realise and certainly didn’t mean it to be,” he continued. “We just thought it was funny.”
“As you’ll probably see from a number of our other posts online, we do a lot of jokes playing on words. That’s all it was. Many apologies if you did take offence to it. It wasn’t meant that way.”
Hate crimes towards Asians have been rising since the outbreak of the pandemic. A report by the Human Rights Watch has shown that Coronavirus is fuelling anti-Asian hate.