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Is HSBC bank romanticising animal cruelty?


HSBC’s recent TV advert features Chinese fishermen using cormorants to catch fish. However, some allege that this practice is cruel, raising questions about the possible impact on HSBC’s brand of using such imagery to promote its services.

A Western visitor looks on while a venerable Chinese fisherman punts his raft out on to a wide, slow-moving river at dawn. At the front of the raft perches a cormorant. Soon, the bird is plucking fish from the water, helping the fisherman to swell his catch.

These images are from a recent TV advert produced by HSBC, the leading multinational bank. This is used to promote HSBC’s local knowledge as a support to its investment expertise.

However, the process of cormorant fishing isn’t such a friendly partnership as it might appear. This aspect of the process seems to be largely absent from the HSBC advert, where the bird appears to be catching fish and returning to the boat of its own free will.

Because of this, it has been argued that the advert romanticises animal cruelty, by ‘airbrushing out’ the suffering of the animals involved.

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