Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Apparently those somewhat annoying Nike ads that feature Cleveland Cavaliers NBA star LeBron James taking it to some caricatures of Chinese martial arts figures have offended the powers-that-be in the PRC.
BEIJING -- China has banned a Nike television commercial showing NBA star LeBron James battling a cartoon kung fu master, saying the ad insults national dignity.

The commercial, titled "Chamber of Fear," was broadcast on Chinese stations and on state television's national sports channel before being pulled last month.

The ad shows James, the Cleveland Cavaliers' reigning NBA rookie of the year defeating the kung fu master, two women in traditional Chinese attire and a pair of dragons, considered a sacred symbol in traditional Chinese culture.

The advertisement "violates regulations that mandate that all advertisements in China should uphold national dignity and interest and respect the motherland's culture," the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television said on its Web site Monday. "It also goes against rules that require ads not to contain content that blasphemes national practices and cultures. ... The ad has received an indignant response from Chinese viewers."
Not only that, but James and Nike have managed to offend the order-loving denizens of Singapore as well:
Last month, a series of Nike ads in Singapore designed to resemble graffiti drew attention in a nation known for civic order.

The small, page-sized posters featuring anime-style images of James were pasted over the ad panels of 700 bus stops, surprising commuters who were used to very tidy shelters. At least 50 commuters complained, shelter officials said.

Imitation used to be the sincerest form of flattery but I guess American hoopsters and shoe companies should invoke Chinese symbols and motifs at their own peril.

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