Mouthwash brand Listerine confirmed on Thursday that it was removing promotional materials that featured Canto-pop singer Denise Ho Wan-sze as its marketing campaign “entered a new phase” to focus on the products. The company’s timing raised questions as it came two weeks after cosmetics giant Lancome cancelled a concert it co-organised with Ho this month following an attack by Beijing newspaper Global Times, which accused Lancome of inviting a “Hong Kong independence advocate”. Ho was vilified on the mainland for taking part in the pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014. The news about Listerine was exposed on internet forum discuss.com.hk on Thursday morning, with one user suggesting that promotional materials with Ho would be removed from Mannings’ stores on Friday. Listerine Hong Kong’s spokeswoman confirmed to the Post that the material would be taken down, but when asked if it was related to the Lancome controversy, she said: “The overall campaign, including [Ho’s] involvement and the timing, has always been originally planned.” In a statement, the spokeswoman added that Listerine “is transitioning to the next phase of our new product promotions campaign this week”. “This next phase of our ... campaign will focus on the features and functions of the new product. Like all product promotions campaigns, we have different themes and various phases to promote our products,” the statement read. Show goes on for Denise Ho with free Hong Kong concert after Lancome scrapped her event Ho could not be reached for comment, while a spokeswoman for Manning’s PR firm suggested that the retail chain only removed material “according to suppliers’ demand”. Ho’s picture was first posted on Listerine’s Facebook page on May 27, and the last post involving the singer went up on June 4, the day before Lancome cancelled her concert. Her pictures were still on Listerine’s Facebook page and website on Thursday. Democratic Party lawmaker Sin Chung-kai said: “It is hard to believe that the change was purely a business decision.” New People’s Party vice-chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun said it was possible Listerine made the decision under pressure. Lancome has only itself to blame for public relations fiasco However, League of Social Democrats chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen, who organised a protest and a petition targeting Lancome, said he could not say whether Listerine’s move was politically driven. “Listerine has been more responsible than other brands and was not too concerned about political pressure in the past weeks,” Ng said.