Video: “Future of Engagement” on How Nike Invoked the Ire of the Irish

Written on
Mar 20, 2012 
Brian LaRue  |

ADOTAS - St. Patrick’s Day came over the weekend, and as you may have seen, in advance of the holiday Nike decided to release a commemorative Irish-themed sneaker line, the Black and Tan sneaker. Now, here’s the problem: In the U.S., a black and tan is a mixture of a light ale or lager and a stout or porter. In Ireland, the Black and Tans were a British paramilitary group that brutalized Irish civilians in the 1920s. You can understand how the cross-cultural translation of the term could create a very public outcry — which it did. In the latest episode of his video series The Future of Engagement, host Murray Newlands looks at what Nike did wrong, what it did correctly in the aftermath and how people were discussing the issue online. One of the things the company did wrong, he points out, is that it made almost exactly the same mistake Ben and Jerry’s made in 2006, when the ice cream company issued a Black and Tan flavor. “Any kind of Google search would’ve told them this was the wrong thing to do,” Newlands says. But he observes that the conversation on Twitter was much more forgiving of Nike than public figures in traditional media were — especially after the company came out and apologized — which leads Newlands to call this fracas “mainly a media circus.” Watch the video here:

Adotas Senior Editor Brian LaRue has been working in journalism in some form or another for slightly longer than his entire adult life, having won his first SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) Award while he was still in high school. Prior to joining Adotas, he served as a reporter, editor, columnist, critic and blogger, mostly for a number of daily and weekly newspapers scattered around his native Connecticut. In his off hours, Brian maintains an active parallel life as a musician and music blogger.

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