A video advertisement from Nike Japan highlighting racism and bullying has caused a stir on social media. The ad immediately prompted sharp online responses, including calls to boycott the company.
The new video uploaded on Nike Japan YouTube channel, titled “Keep Moving: Yourself, the Future” shows three teenage girls of mixed or non-Japanese heritage bullied at school before finding confidence through football. The Japanese-language video has already amassed more than 10 million views on YouTube and got 49k dislikes as of this writing.
In one scene, a group of girls surrounding a classmate whose father is black and touching her hair.
The video ad shows a Korean girl reading on her smartphone about the “zainichi problem” – a word used to describe ethnically Korean people who are “staying in Japan”.
The Japanese girl, meanwhile, experiences bullying at school and struggles to cope with parental pressure to achieve academic greatness.
The video touched and impressed many viewers, saying they liked the way Nike acknowledged that Japan has problems. However, the video also sparked online debate, with some calling for a boycott. Many said Nike Japan went too far.
There were tweets that say, “Our household won’t be buying any more product from Nike” and “Goodbye, Nike”.
Some people defended Nike’s advert saying, “This is an opinion ad to capture the public’s attention to this issue, tons of reactions from the racists show the success of Nike’s strategy to expose the racism in Japan” and “Nike made this ad about racial discrimination in Japan and I think it’s great and important”.
Nike Japan did not immediately release anything from their side. However, a statement released with the video said the advertisement was based on testimonies of young athletes in the country. Nike said many of them who struggled to accept their natural identities.
Nike Japan senior marketing director said that Nike has for a long time listened and supported minorities. She added that Nike has always been vocal on their causes that meet Nike’s values.