Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nike's Irish Misstep

Nike decided to market their SB Dunk Low sneakers by nicknaming them "Black and Tans." Partially due to their color, and partially as a marketing ploy for St. Patrick's Day. Nike deployed advertisements that alluded to the drink, which is a mixture of a stout beer (like Guinness) poured on top of a pale ale (such as Bass).

The problem is "Black and Tans" was the nickname of a paramilitary group in 1920s Ireland that terrorized Catholics and Irish nationalists. They killed people, burnt towns, and once surrounded a village for a week to not let food in. In response to IRA attacks on British sponsored "police" units, the Black and Tans would indiscriminately kill civilians.

If you go to Ireland, don't order a "Black and Tan." Ask the bartender for Guinness poured on top of Smithwick's.

In 2006, Ben & Jerry's released an ice-cream flavor for St. Patrick's Day called "Black and Tan." Irish people didn't like it. Ben & Jerry's apologized.

And 6 years later, Nike's made the same mistake.

It's sort of like trying to pay homage to Polish people by calling a shoe "The SS Boot." Here's a drink/shoe/ice cream named after people who oppressed and murdered your ancestors. Enjoy!

Nike has apologized. And I'll admit it's an obscure historical reference to something that few people outside of Ireland are aware of. Then again, as one Irish politician asked, "Is there no one at Nike able to Google Black and Tan?"

Anyway, free advertising for Yuengling's Black and Tan, which is delicious, despite its name.

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