Saturday, March 17, 2012

Nike Apologizes for "Black & Tan" Shoes for St. Patricks Day

Nike has officially apologized for introducing their "Black and Tan" St. Patrick's Day-themed shoes, citing that some found it inappropriate and offensive. Whereas most of us know it as a referral to the delicious Guiness/Bass beer concoction, it's also the name of a British paramilitary unit sent to quell Irish rebellion against British rule in the 1920s, a strike that led to many attacks on civilians.

"Black and Tan" or "Tan" is still a pejorative term for the British in Ireland. As the LA Times notes, "it would be akin, in some circles, to naming a sneaker the Taliban or the Nazi." Oops.

This isn't the first time a Nike promotion has offended consumers. In 2006, Christians protested their use of a painted cross on the body of soccer player Wayne Rooney, saying it trivialized the sufferings of Christ. The company's 2010 ad, starring a mournful post-sex scandal Tiger Woods in a black-and-white video, also drew ire for its voiceover.

But you know what? These "controversial" ads often end up getting more exposure through PR than a typical media ad buy, so perhaps it is by design rather than a snafu. It could be Nike just found a creative way to move some ugly brown shoes. ;-)

Happy St. Patrick's Day, all! I hope you are enjoying a green run and a green beer wherever you are.


  1. Oops! I didn't know about that historical tidbit either... but enjoy the other black and tan.

  2. I would have imagined the flag of St. George advertisement might offend more people because it has -- in the past -- been used as a nativist, white power symbol in Great Britain, though it has been losing that stigma in recent years.

  3. Wow, didn't know about that ad at all... Being from Ireland and still living there can safely say I never saw any advertisement for those runners here, there probably would have been outrage if they had been advertised here. Would really have upset a lot of people.


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