The German sportswear retailer, Puma, has pulled a line of limited edition trainers featuring the colours of the UAE flag after complaints that they were disrespectful.
These commemorative trainers were created to mark the 40th UAE National Day, but rapidly caused uproar amongst Emirati consumers.
The word’s third-largest sportswear brand released an emailed statement affirming that “Puma took the feedback from our consumers very seriously and has indefinitely actioned the removal of the shoe from all stores.”
Behind the News:
In Arab culture, the shoe is considered dirty because it is on the ground and associated with the foot, the lowest part of the body, which prompted complaints that featuring the national colours trainers was culturally insensitive.
Moreover, the flag is a sacred symbol for the UAE and due to this, many felt that Puma had trivialized it by using the flag’s colours on its trainers.
Puma issued a statement in which the retailer apologised for this grave cultural misunderstanding, emphasising that “the shoe was never intended to upset or offend our customers here in the Middle East, but to give the people of the UAE a piece of locally-created design as a symbol of recognition of this great occasion.”
An Arab expat working in the UAE said that “big brands have to realise that you cannot have one idea for the whole world. Each area you operate in has to be have tailor-made solutions. Especially here in the Middle East, where cultural sensitivities are key, you have to be very careful. “Read More
This week Benetton revealed its latest ad campaign, supporting the Unhate foundation, which features a number of politicians and religious figureheads kissing, including US president Barack Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. (more…)Read More
Recently, Levi’s decided to temporarily withdraw a campaign in the UK that showed scenes of rioting, as the company feared this would be culturally insensitive in the wake of the devastating riots that took place across Britain in August. (more…)Read More
A French anti-smoking campaign showing teenagers in a pose suggesting oral sex has caused an outrage in France. According to critics the ads trivialise sexual abuse and distract from the real health threats caused by smoking.
Behind the News:
Although French advertising agencies are known for their tendency to use sexual references in their campaigns to increase consumer awareness, the posters for the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association Droits des Non-Fumeurs playing with the image of fellatio are regarded as going one step too far by the French.
The ads which are respectively showing one teenage girl and two boys kneeling in front of an older man having a cigarette in their mouth which seems to point at the man’s trousers feature the slogan: “Smoking Means Being a Slave to Tobacco.”
According to the association who commissioned the campaign, the posters do not illustrate sexual abuse in any form. They were created to shock young smokers and alter their behaviour which traditional campaigns are failing to do due to their low impact.
Despite tobacco being acknowledged as a serious health risk, being the number one cause of avoidable deaths (half of French students over 14 have tried it), many people regard the ads as unacceptable. According to a spokeswoman of the feminist pressure group Chiennes de Garde, it is “inadmissible” that an image implying sexual abuse should be used for an anti-smoking campaign and a spokeswoman of the conservative group Familles de France said that she plans to lodge a complaint with the French advertising standards watchdog.
Although these ads are only going to be published in France it is very likely that a similar outrage would be caused in other countries. Despite the fact that shock advertising is widely used around the world it has always been the most controversial form and advertising agencies have to be aware of the cultural standards in their country in order to launch a successful campaign.Read More
The Iranian government filed a formal complaint to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the London 2012 Olympics logo, stating that it spells the word ‘Zion’. Although the term ‘Zion’ has a variety of different connotations, it is widely used to refer to the historic land of Israel and used as a symbol of the Jewish people. (more…)Read More
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently banned Yves Saint Laurent’s television advert for their fragrance Belle D’Opium. They were concerned that a scene in which the actress playing “Belle” runs her finger down her inner elbow could be interpreted as simulating drug use, whilst her expressive dance movements could be seen as illustrations of the effects of drugs. (more…)Read More
Korean netizens have protested against a Chinese ad campaign for the online game World II.
In features Chinese pop singer Han Geng, who launched his successful career in Korea (for those of you who follow Asian pop, his band was called “Super Junior”).
In a video promoting World II, Han is yelled at in Korean by a bossy lady from Korea. Thanks to World II, the singer gets revenge on her in the virtual world of electronic games, boosting his self-confidence. He then returns to reality, puts on an incredible gig and becomes a superstar. The video ends with a shot of the Korean lady, lost in the crowd, looking up to Han in awe.Read More
The Chinese brand of women’s lingerie, Jealousy International, has released a print ad featuring a Princess Diana look-alike, playing a cello in underwear. A young boy (Prince William?) holds a music score for her to read, with the headline “Feel the Romance of British Royalty”.Read More
Beijing, August 2010 – In an article titled “Textappeal: the Advantage of Talents”, the leading Chinese industry publication Modern Advertising (affiliated to Advertising Age) has introduced the notion of transcreation to China.Read More