It turns out that Beijing police lack a certain sense of humor when it comes to half-naked Spartan warriors toting salad through the city center.
About 40 Western men wearing scanty costumes, inspired by denizens of the ancient Greek city of Sparta, marched through Beijing's central business district and an upscale shopping area Wednesday. They carried small containers of salad to promote Sweetie Salad, a local food delivery firm.
The bare-chested models caused a sensation in the streets, attracting crowds of onlookers and posing with women for photos that were circulated widely on social media.
They attracted so much attention that the police cracked down on the parade to restore what they called the "disturbed social order."
Officers dispersed the parade at the Sanlitun shopping area. Photos in state media showed police officers on top of two of the Spartans, who apparently had been wrestled to the ground.
Not so indomitable, then.
Police said in a statement Thursday that they had to control some “foreigners in short pants” to restore order. It said the matter was under investigation.
Public reaction to the stunt was mixed. “I think I can accept naked delivery men,” one person local told a Chinese outlet. “Whether they are naked or not, I will eat my salad calmly.”
Others praised the police. “Handsome Spartan warriors tried to occupy the Chinese capital, but were defeated by our awesome police in five seconds,” state media quoted a witness as saying.
Sweetie Salad apologized profusely for the march, for which it did not have a permit. It said in a statement posted online that store representatives spoke with police to clear up any “misunderstanding.”
“We chose Spartans and invited foreign models who are physically fit simply because we wanted to encourage our customers to pursue the beauty of being healthy,” the store said.
The marketing stunt appears to have worked. “A lot of people have asked me why their salad was not delivered by muscular Western models today,” a Sweetie deliveryman told CNN.
The incident came after another marketing effort in the Sanlitum area also drew attention from social media users and police ― a homemade sex video purportedly taken in a Uniqlo fitting room.