Nike is facing a crisis in Japan over an advertisement exposing racial discrimination in the country.
The video shows the “real life experience” of three soccer players from a mixed heritage.
It has about 25 million views on social media and nearly 80,000 shares.
But it has sparked a heated debate as Japan rarely speaks openly about serious issues such as racism, with some questioning whether the foreign emblem should have intervened.
Nike Japan said the ad shows how people “overcome their daily challenges and conflicts so they can move their future through sport”.
But comments on social media said Nike exaggerated the racist stance, saying it was wrong to appoint Japan. Some users have threatened to boycott Nike products.
Another said: “It is as if they are trying to make this kind of discrimination everywhere in Japan.”
However, there were also positive comments about the ad, entitled “The Future Doesn’t Wait”, to highlight the problem of racism.
Outrage In Japan
“Most Japanese people do not like to be told by foreign voices to change their ways,” said Morley Robertson, a Japanese journalist who is an American.
“But if the immigrant shows a deep understanding of Japanese culture or Japanese law, then those Japanese who might just be offended will come out and praise.”
Steve McGinnes, author of “Surfing the Wave Asia: How to Survive and Succeed in the New World Order”, believes the ad is “your goal”.
“The upcoming discrimination will be a serious matter in any culture. But Nike should not think, as an outward sign, that it is appropriate for them to show it to their superiors.
“They have cleverly exposed the issue to many who feel that it should not be allowed by visitors. This is a great goal for Nike.”
How This Effects Goodwill Of Nike?
Nike is not the only Western brand that will be criticized for not understanding Asian culture and consumer behavior.
Last year, the leading French brand Dior was criticized for using a Chinese map that excluded Taiwan.
Taiwan has been independent since the 1950’s, but Beijing’s official policy states that the island is a Chinese province.
“Pride and indifference can be the worst enemies of Western Asian products as management teams can underestimate Asian pride and local culture by Asian consumers,” said Martin Roll, a brand consultant and author of an Asian business.
“By 2020, should the United States or the American type be the one to take the lead in racism and tell the whole world what they are doing wrong?” adds Mr. McGinnes. “Obviously, most Japanese people think it’s not fair.”