An ad by Nike Japan that covers issues of bullying and racism is facing severe online backlash, as well as calls to boycott the sports giant’s products.
The two-minute spot, released by Nike Japan, centres on several teenage girls bullied in school over their race or other differences. In the end, they find their confidence through a love of football.
It was released on YouTube last Friday, has almost 10 million views and over 35,000 comments.
While the video has 65k likes on YouTube, it has an equally significant 45k dislikes.
Although some social media users praised the ad, others were vocal about their dislike of the ad, saying it misrepresented modern Japanese society.
“Is Japan really such a country full of discrimination? It feels like you’re creating a false impression of Japan,” said one social media user.
Another wrote: “Nowadays, you often see one or two people of different nationalities going to school perfectly peacefully. The one that’s prejudiced is Nike.”
While Japan is a typically homogenous society, the country’s multiracial rugby team and the likes of tennis star Naomi Osaka who is half Japanese and half Haitian are challenging what it means to be Japanese.
While Nike has not publically commented on the controversial ad, it did say on its website it believes in the transformative nature of sports.
“We have long listened to minority voices, supported and spoken for causes that fit our values. We believe sports have the power to show what a better world looks like, to bring people together and encourage action in their respective communities.”