Blog: Leonie BarrieNike's Ad Flap

Leonie Barrie | 9 December 2004

So Nike Inc has apologised for recent ads that in the space of one month have seen it offend the Chinese national culture and spawn a string of complaints in Singapore. The banned footwear commercial in China featured an attack on a kung fu fighter while in squeaky clean Singapore the company daubed graffiti-inspired graphics over bus stops.

How much of this was intentional do you think? After all, courting controversy is all in the course of a day’s work for a brand that wants to position itself as a corporate rebel. Nike generates around 13 per cent of its total revenues in Asia and has made no secret of the fact this is a key growth market. The latest commercials might have offended adult consumers – but they aren’t Nike’s target audience. In fact, reports from both China and Singapore say the ads were popular with teens – and connecting with a young audience of hundreds of millions has to be a savvy strategy.

CHINA: Nike Says Sorry For Banned Kung Fu Advert


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