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 And I'll admit it's an obscure historical reference to something that few people outside of Ireland are aware of.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.

Obama's Final Four

President Barack Obama unveiled his NCAA Final Four picks: Kentucky, Ohio State, Missouri, and North Carolina. He selected UNC to win the Championship.

Obviously Kentucky is a standard pick to go deep. #1 team in the country, #1 overall seed. They do have Duke in their bracket. But the President is politically savvy enough to know that most people hate Duke. Obama did pick the Blue Devils last year. Then again, he didn't have to run for President last year. More voters hate Duke than like Duke.

Obama might have picked Ohio State because of Fab Melo's ineligibility hurting Syracuse. Or because Ohio has 20 electoral votes and is perhaps the most important swing state in the election. No Republican has ever been elected President without winning Ohio. In other words, Obama winning Ohio blocks the Republican road to the White House

The Missouri pick reflects one of the "sexy" picks to win the tournament. Mizzou's won 30 games and have a good shot to beat Michigan State in their region. Obama lost Missouri by 0.14% in November of 2008. 3,903 votes. The Mizzou Arena holds 15,061 fans. If Obama gets some Tiger fans to switch sides, he could win Missouri in 2012.

North Carolina is a good basketball pick. Obama probably wants to avoid Kansas, too, as he's picked the Jayhawks before and they've been disappointing in tournament play. This is also a good political pick. Obama won North Carolina in 2008, by 0.32%. His margin of victory was 14,177 votes in the usually Republican state. North Carolina will probably return to the GOP column in 2012, but with Obama picking the Tar Heels to win it all, perhaps the Republicans won't be able to cover the spread.