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Bad Moments in Marketing

What were these guys thinking?

#1: The Adidas Yellow Series

Sportswear giant Adidas is facing complaints over a new trainer that some say features a racist cartoon image. If you want to learn about better marketing strategies, check out this Adwords for laywers and the effect it has in the market.

The offending footwear includes a yellow picture of an Asian youth with bowl-cut hair, pig nose and buck teeth.

Asian-American groups have complained that the picture on the shoe’s tongue portrays an anti-Asian stereotype.

Adidas said it had intended no offence. The image was designed by US graffiti artist Barry McGee who has previously used it in an anti-racist commentary.

The overall trainer was designed for German-based Adidas by US clothing firm Huf.

An Adidas spokeswoman told the San Jose Mercury News that the company “appreciates all self-expression” and “had no intention of offending any individual or group”.

Produced in a limited run of 1,000 pairs, the Adidas “Yellow Series Y1 Huf” shoe retails at $250 (£143).

“It’s very sad and disturbing that in this day and age, this stereotype is coming from a large and global company like Adidas,” said Vincent Pan, executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action in San Francisco.

The trainer has also been criticised in internet discussion rooms.

Huf owner Keith Hufnagel dismissed the accusations of racism as “internet garbage”.

“They should do their studying before they say anything,” he added, referring to the image’s previous anti-racist use.

Yet Aimee Baldillo of the Asian American Justice Centre argued that “slapping a Chinese face on a sneaker removes it from that context”.

She added that the centre had received a number of complaints.

#2: Ben & Jerry’s “Black & Tan”

Ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s have apologized for causing offence by calling a new flavor “Black & Tan” — the nickname of a notoriously violent British militia that operated during Ireland’s war of independence.

The ice cream, available only in the United States, is based on an ale and stout drink of the same name.

“Any reference on our part to the British Army unit was absolutely unintentional and no ill-will was ever intended,” said a Ben & Jerry’s spokesman.

“Ben & Jerry’s was built on the philosophies of peace and love,” he added.

The Black and Tans, so-called because of their two-tone uniforms, were recruited in the early 1920s to bolster the ranks of the police force in Ireland as anti-British sentiment grew.

They quickly gained a reputation for brutality and mention of the militia still arouses strong feelings in Ireland.

“I can’t believe that Ben & Jerry’s would be so insensitive to call an ice cream such a name and to launch it as a celebration of Irishness … it’s an insult!” wrote one blogger on www.junkfoodblog.com.

“I hope they don’t try to launch it here in Ireland or I imagine they’ll lose a lot of their fans.”

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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