Nike is usually pretty great at causing a buzz in the best possible way. The Marty McFly sneaker? Awesome. The Nike+ FuelBand? Crazy popular. But the usually-clever marketers made a major misstep this week, with their St. Patrick’s Day-themed rollout: the SB Black and Tan. Which is supposed to be named after the drink, they said…except that the drink is named after a violent paramilitary group who terrorized Ireland in the 1920s and killed a bunch of civilians. But don’t worry–they’re super-sorry.
The sneaker, which is retailing for around $90 and is, arguably, pretty cute isn’t being pulled–c’mon, they’re not that sorry–but the company has issued an apology, because, they said, they didn’t realize the implications. Or, you know. Think to check Wikipedia.
See, Nike didn’t mean to stir the hornets nest that is the sad, sad history of the Irish people. What they wanted to do was glorify how drunk they are! That is, they had meant for the new kick to be in celebration of Irish beer, which is why they named it after a Black and Tan, which is a drink that consists of “the fine balancing act of a Stout (Guinness) on top a Pale Ale (Harp) in a pint glass,” according to an advertisement.
However, the Black and Tans that many older Irish individuals (and refugees) think of doesn’t involve a frothy head–instead, the name conjures up images of the Royal Irish Constabulary’s auxiliary group, a group of “temporary constables” who murdered Irish civilians and burned down houses in order to clamp down on the revolution. But instead of focusing on the IRA, they just killed any old person and were generally terrifying. Nice, right?
But Nike’s not alone when it comes to Irish insensitivity around St. Patrick’s Day. An Irish Car Bomb, which is arguably one of the most popular drinks among college students during the month of March, is similarly rooted in the the days of domestic terrorism and fear in the streets.
Better luck next time, Nike.