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Nike's New Japan-Focused Ad on Racism and Bullying Stirs Online Controversy

© AFP 2023 / STEPHANIE KEITHNEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 20: A Nike logo is seen at the Nike flagship store on 5th Ave. on December 20, 2019 in New York City
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 20: A Nike logo is seen at the Nike flagship store on 5th Ave. on December 20, 2019 in New York City - Sputnik International
American footwear and fashion brand Nike often makes it to the headlines with its ad campaigns. Sometimes, Nike ads revolve around celebrities sporting its gear and sometimes, the concept of the campaign is focused on social issues. For instance, a recently released advertisement by Nike in Japan talks about racism and bullying.

A two-minute Nike commercial featuring three female footballers from different backgrounds, Japanese, Korean, and mixed (a black father and Japanese mother) has instigated a heated debate on social media platforms, as people are discussing whether the ad portrays Japan, a mostly homogenous country, as racially intolerant to some extent. 

As part of the short film, the Japanese girl is shown being bullied by her family into improving her grades at school.

Meanwhile, the mixed race girl is seen getting her hair touched and pulled by her classmates, and the Korean girl, on the other hand, is shown searching online about the racially sensitive – "zainichi problem" – a term used to denote people of Korean roots living in Japan.

​Titled "The Future Isn't Waiting", the commercial is now being dissected by netizens, with some calling it "accurate" while others think of it as "nonsensical".

​Calls to boycott Nike products are also bouncing off of Twitter's walls based on this advertisement.

​Since its launch earlier this week, the commercial has already garnered over 10 million views on YouTube alone.


A man walks past a 'Tanishq' jewellery showroom in a shopping arcade in New Delhi on October 14, 2020. - Sputnik International
Indian Jewellery Brand 'Tanishq' Outlet Attacked Over Hindu-Muslim Marriage Ad
Nike has not yet addressed the controversy.

In a similar social debate, last month India also witnessed an online divide over an advertisement campaign released by Indian jewellery brand Tanishq. The ad showed a Hindu bride being pampered by her Muslim mother-in-law – a concept that offended some sections of society, who accused the jewellery brand of promoting interfaith marriages. The brand was later forced to withdraw the commercial due to public pressure.

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