In an otherwise pretty decent ad for the Chevy Trax, GM has been forced to go on the defensive for using a song that includes the phrase “ching-chong, chop suey.”
The television spot for the Chevrolet Trax SUV, which had been running in Canada since early April and was posted to Chevrolet’s European website, disappeared from Canadian TV screens about a week ago, and was replaced with a new edit of the ad without lyrics.
In response to queries from the South China Morning Post, GM Canada communications director Faye Roberts said the commercial “received some negative feedback regarding the lyrics in the commercial’s soundtrack.”
The ad is called “After Midnight,” and different versions of it in different countries treated the potentially offensive line differently. “The UK version muffled the ‘Fu Manchu’ lyrics while the Italian version, for instance, did not. Roberts said that to her knowledge the offending version had not hit TV screens outside Canada,” according to SCMP. So GM was obviously aware of the problem, i.e. “ching-chong” is a problem. In our digital age, there’s really no such thing as a “regional advert.”
QZ has helpfully identified the tune as “Oriental Swing” from the album Lil Hardin Armstrong & Her Swing Orchestra: 1936-1940. They obviously weren’t as politically correct back in that day, which is a shame because it’s a catchy tune: