In honor of St. Patrick’s day, Nike decided to capitalize on the inevitable green-beer fueled celebrations by doing the most logical and reasonable thing possible: alienating Irish people.
The "Black and Tan" was originally supposed to be rolled out as a dedication to the infamous drink comprised of stout and lager in a pint glass. Supposed to be.
As noted by the Belfast Telegraph, an advertisement for the shoe even said: “Tis the season for Irish beer and why not celebrate with Nike. The Black and Tan sneaker takes inspiration for the fine balancing act of a Stout (Guinness) on top a Pale Ale (Harp) in a pint glass.”
Unfortunately, while Nike may have intended to reference a fine drink with its latest offering – that’s not how a lot of people understood it. Rather, it appears as though with most people, the reference to “Black and Tan” is moreso linked to a violent British parliamentary group from the 1920s. A group, mind you, that attacked Irish civilians during the War of Independence.
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Needless to say, the mass atrocities performed have tainted the “Black and Tans” reference in the eyes of many.
It didn’t take long for Nike to realize its error in judgment.
Nike spokesman Brian Strong sent out this statement of apology (via MSN):
“This month Nike is scheduled to release a quick strike version of the Nike SB Dunk Low that has been unofficially named by some using a phrase that can be viewed as inappropriate and insensitive. We apologize. No offense was intended.”
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And the rollout plan has also been adjusted accordingly.
“When launched, it is likely to be available in several countries albeit in limited numbers. It won't be on sale in Ireland as we hadn't planned to distribute it in Ireland,” a spokesperson for Nike told the Irish Times.
At the end of the day, you have to give folks due credit. Mass chaos, countless riots and multiple injuries at debut events for shoes? No problem. An offensive name that unintentionally insults a group of people? Unacceptable.
That’s not to say one situation deserves attention and the other doesn’t. It’s just sort of funny that both don’t get the same amount of attention.