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Ferrari crashes highlight danger of Asia luxury backlash

posted 26 Sept 2012, 02:45 by Mpelembe   [ updated 26 Sept 2012, 02:46 ]

Fatal accidents involving Ferraris and Asia's elite have sparked public outcry and served as a reminder that even the most glamorous brands have to tread carefully.

ASIA-FERRARI - Ferraris - they're built to run fast and furious.

The Italian legend may want to shift down a few gears - at least out here in Asia.

A string of high-profile crashes - from Singapore to Thailand and car-crazy China - are threatening to make this logo a symbol of Asia's rising inequality.

In Bangkok, the 27-year old heir to the Red Bull fortune was recently arrested in a Ferrari hit and run that killed a police officer.

And just ahead of China's leadership transition, a senior ally of President Hu Jintao demoted after reports his son was involved in a deadly Ferrari crash.

Worried about public anger - government censors deleted all microblog posts mentioning the accident - even blocking searches of the word 'Ferrari.'

The car maker declined a request to comment on the incidents - but they don't appear to be slowing the company down.

Ferrari sales have been strong even in this gloomy economy, with net profit up 10 percent in the first half of this year.

But the cases - and public outcry - are a reminder even the most glamorous brands have to tread carefully.

Brand consultant Anant Deboor of The Partners.


"In today's world, there are so many conversations on the internet and through social media, et cetera, that any brand that walks away from trouble it tends to get magnified. There's an onus on brands and brand guardians to be more responsible about what their brands stand for."

Already, there are signs of lower luxury tolerance in China.

A former civil servant - nicknamed "Brother Watch" on microblogs - got the boot after pictures surfaced online of his fancy watch collection, reportedly worth thousands of dollars.

Asia's growing wealth represents opportunity for the likes of Ferrari but even the fastest firms can't outrun an image problem.

Lisa Yuriko Thomas, Reuters.