by Theodore Zarik
Occasionally, Japanese PR goes so wrong, it’s almost as if the last half-millenia of gruellingly slow progress toward a fairer, more equal world never happened. In the case of All Nippon Airways (ANA), progress toward overcoming racial stereotypes was marred internationally after it had the bright idea of sticking a giant plastic nose on a Japanese guy in a crude attempt at humor.
In the advert, two Japanese guys are casually chewing the fat (in English) about enhancing ANA’s future. “Let’s change the face of Japanese people,” says dude #1. “Sure,” replies dude #2, unexpectedly now adorning a blonde wig and massive schnoz in a terribly misguided and offensive exhibit of what can only be described as one of the world’s first attempts at “white face.”
Twitter carnage ensued, as western users flipped over their Roombas and typed various incarnations of, ‘GYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!’ at ANA reps. This isn’t anywhere near the first time that a large, ought-to-know-better Japanese firm has been racially insensitive in their advertising, but we have to give ANA points for joining umeshu manufacturer Choya to become only the second Japanese company to get in front of the controversy, immediately apologize and vow to amend the ad.