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“Black and Tans”?! Really?…A Little Market Research Can Prevent Embarassment March 13, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in Industry News, Uncategorized.
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This is a bit off topic but relevant, nonetheless.  I was talking to some acquaintances about the upcoming US elections and somehow the topic turned Mexico, Guatemala, and finally to Che Guevara.  My friends said: “Che who?” I almost fell over but, due to my extensive Marine Corps sensitivity training, instead I replied with a loud and derisive: “What the Hell!? Are you kidding me?! You don’t know who Che Guevara is?! I didn’t really say that, but I should have 😉  How can any American now know about Che Guevara?  Again, I digress…You can read about him here.

Today, I am reading the news and there is a story about how Nike, in honor of St. Patrick’s day, named a new shoe the “Black and Tan”.  The blog readers from the UK and Ireland are probably picking themselves off the floor right about now.  My mental response to the news was: “WTH!? You named a shoe the Black and Tans?!  For our American readers with less of a grasp of European history here goes.  Black and Tan is not simply a drink.  It is term that refers to those employed by the Royal Irish Constabulary during the Irish Revolution in 1920 and 1921. They wore black and tan uniforms. They gained a nasty reputation for attacking and killing Irish civilians. Today it is a pejorative term still used in Ireland.   You can read about it on Wikipedia.  I learned from my mother today that my great grandmother (we are Irish descent) would not wear orange until her dying day.  This blog post is too short to go into the politics of Ireland but you can look it up 😉

The point is that it is important when marketing in today’s interconnected world that you conduct basic research.  It is easier to offend today than ever and 10 minutes on Google will save your company a ton of headaches.  A company like Nike should have had at least one person do basic research to understand to what, if anything, Black and Tan referred.  Their little misstep created a significant issue for the company.   A little research goes a long way.

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