The negative attention directed towards the Trax ad centres around its soundtrack; a song called Booty Swing by Austrian DJ Parov Stelar that includes the lyrics “In the land of Fu Manchu” where the girls sing “ching, ching, chop-suey”.
The South China Morning Post has been among the most vocal critics of the commercial, using the word “racist” in the header of an article slamming its existence.
The ad was run on television in Canada and online across Chevrolet websites throughout Europe, but has never been used to market the vehicle in China.
GM spokeswoman Ryndee Carney told industry journal Advertising Age the company has substituted the commercial for one without lyrics in its marketing campaigns following the complaints.
“Our intent was not to offend anyone and we’re deeply sorry if anyone was offended,” Carney said.
“We’re reviewing our advertising approval processes to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
China is GM’s largest market, the Detroit-based manufacturer selling 2.84 million vehicles there in 2012. The company plans increase that number to five million by 2015 with the help of its joint venture partners, and has committed to spending US$11 billion ($10.7 billion) in the region by the end of 2016.
The Trax controversy comes just one week after Hyundai apologised over a commercial for its ix35 that featured a man attempting to commit suicide.