Nike is getting slammed for releasing a sneaker called “The Black and Tan,” reports the Irish Times.Why? For those that haven’t kept up with their Irish history, the Black and Tans were an infamous paramilitary force who committed atrocities against civilians during the War of Independence in Ireland.
Now, there was obviously no malice involved in the naming of the shoe. It’s to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day — the pair of shoes are the Nike SB Dunk High ‘Guinness’ and the Nike SB Dunk Low Pro ‘Black & Tan,’ in reference to the drinks (a black and tan is half stout, half pale ale). It’s part of an ongoing series of beverage-inspired sneakers.
But apparently no one at Nike took the time to Google the term before they decided to name the shoe.
Irish Central explains why it’s like naming a sneaker in America “The Al-Qaeda”:
The orders the Black and Tans had in Ireland are best summed up by one of their commanders, speaking in June 1920:
“If a police barracks is burned or if the barracks already occupied is not suitable, then the best house in the locality is to be commandeered, the occupants thrown into the gutter. Let them die there – the more the merrier.
“Should the order (“Hands Up”) not be immediately obeyed, shoot and shoot with effect. If the persons approaching (a patrol) carry their hands in their pockets, or are in any way suspicious-looking, shoot them down. You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped, and you are bound to get the right parties some time. The more you shoot, the better I will like you, and I assure you no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man.”
-Lt. Col. Smyth, June 1920
Even massive global brands with near-unlimited resources like Nike can make the simplest of mistakes like this. The same thing happened to Ben & Jerry’s in 2006 when it named an ice cream flavour “Black and Tan.”
Now, Nike has to deal with a wave of bad PR because its product offended an entire nation — all because of one innocent mistake.
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