- Justin Harper
- Business reporter, BBC News
2 hours ago
US sportswear, shoes and sports equipment maker Nike is facing harsh criticism over an ad highlighting racial discrimination in Japan.
The video shows the “real-life experience” of three young footballers from mixed ethnic backgrounds.
The video attracted about 25 million views on social media and nearly 80,000 posts.
However, it sparked a heated debate because Japan is not used to discussing such sensitive issues as race, as some have questioned whether a foreign brand should be accepted in the Japanese market.
The company’s Japan subsidiary said the ad highlights how “people have overcome their daily struggles and disputes with the goal of moving forward into the future through sports.”
But some comments on social media stated that Nike exaggerated the extent of discrimination by saying that it was unfair for Japan to be singled out. Other users threatened to boycott Nike products.
And one of the comments stated: “As if they are trying to say that this kind of discrimination is everywhere in Japan.”
However, some comments were also positive about the declaration and titled “The future does not wait”, highlighting the issue of racism.
Why do people get angry?
“Many Japanese don’t want foreign voices to tell them how to change their way of life,” said Morley Roperston, a half-Japanese and half-American journalist.
“But if a foreigner demonstrates a deep understanding of Japanese culture or Japanese grammar, those same Japanese who feel offended will shower that person with praise,” he added.
Steve Mack-Jeans, author of Riding the Asian Wave: How to Survive and Thrive in a New World Order, believes advertising is “a goal that backfires.”
“Entrenched racism will be an issue in every culture. But Nike, as a foreign brand, should not think that it is appropriate to point this out to their host.”
“They shine a light on crudely on a topic that many people feel should not be allowed in front of the guests. Nike has scored a clear goal against his own net,” he added.
Damaging Nike’s reputation?
Nike isn’t the only Western brand that has been criticized for a lack of understanding of Asian cultures and consumer behavior.
Last year, the French luxury brand Dior was criticized for using a map of China that does not include Taiwan.
It is reported that Taiwan has enjoyed self-rule since the fifties of the last century, but the official policy of Beijing is that the island is considered a Chinese territory.
“Arrogance and complacency may be the worst enemies of Western brands in Asia with the possibility that management teams proudly underestimate Asian consumers about their Asian and local culture,” said Martin Roll, a trademark consultant and author of books on Asian business.
“In 2020, if the United States or any American brand engage in claiming supremacy over the rest of the world out of racism and what they’re doing is wrong? It’s clear that many Japanese believe that they (those with whom they treat them arrogantly) shouldn’t,” Mac-Jeans said. Act like this. “
However, Morley says Nike understands the sensitivity of the issue, adding, “They say this from a purely personal point of view. Most ads in Japan touch on sensitive issues like discrimination because some people might feel bad.”
But conflict does not always lead to a decrease in sales, and it can actually have the opposite effect.
Nike’s campaigns in the United States, in which Colin Kaebrunk, a former NFL midfielder who bowed during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, have seen sales soar.
Robinson concluded, “Nike’s sales are likely to go up. Haters will buy their goods anyway.”
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