Nike Irks Irish With Black and Tan Name


When a major brand names a new product, there usually is a boatload of research that goes into it: Focus groups, consultants, that sort of thing. But Nike appears to have skipped a few steps (or somebody didn’t do their homework) because they managed to release a new shoe last week that enraged pretty much the whole country of Ireland.

Released in the lead-up to St. Patrick’s Day, Nike’s new Dunk Low sneaks are nicknamed “Black and Tan,” in honor of the great Guinness Stout and “half and half” Guinness mix concoctions. The shoes, accordingly, have black and tan in the design and the image of a Guiness-inspired pint glass on the shoe’s insole.

Unfortunately for the shoe giant, as the Guardian points out, “Black and Tan” also evokes a less happy association for the Irish. It’s the nickname for “the violent British paramilitary unit, the Royal Irish Constabulary reserve force, that conducted brutal reprisals during the early 1920s Irish Independence Wars, including the atrocities of Bloody Sunday.”[more]

As one Irish-American told the newspaper, it would be like naming a shoe after another terrorist group such as the “al-Qaida.” Oops. Nike, of course, has apologized profusely to the residents of the Emerald Isle, but it isn’t the first company to make such a mistake (and surely won’t be the last).

As the Guardian adds, Ben & Jerry’s had a Black and Tan ice cream back in 2006, Reebok had a shoe for women called the Incubus (which is unfortunately the same name as “a sexually assaulting demon”), and Umbro named a shoe Zyklon, “recalling the substance used in the Nazi gas chambers.”

Image of the Nike Dunk Low insole below via: