Quirky News

  • 21 January 2014, 11:37

Nippon Airways pulls 'racist' big nose advert

A Japanese airline has pulled the plug on an advertising campaign which saw an actor apparently dressed as a white European with a fake pointy nose and blonde wig.

The All Nippon Airways (ANA) campaign - supposed to showcase international routes from Tokyo's Haneda Airport - features two Japanese pilots discussing their trips to new destinations and pledging to change foreign impressions of Japanese people.

In one advert, one of the pilots turn to his companion mid-conversation to find he is now wearing the blonde wig and a pointy fake nose - a frequent stereotype of Westerners in Japan.

The first man also attempts to hug the other but is rebuffed, alluding to the Japanese disinclination to display affection in public.

ANA, the country's largest carrier, initially apologised for causing offence, but refused to recall the English-language commercial.

However, it seemed to have underestimated the scale of the furore as some customers threatened to cancel loyalty cards and took to social media to lambast the advert.

"It's ironic that the #ANA ad is about changing Japan, when in fact it's the epitome of old school Japanese racism. LOL," tweeted one critic, JKen.

Others, however, were more generous.

The Times' Asia Editor, Richard Lloyd Parry, tweeted: "#ANA's new ad: clumsy racism, or an innovative work of surrealism on a par with Bunuel, Dada and Warhol?"

The airline itself acknowledged that many customers had not interpreted the ad in the way it was intended.

"Our intention was to show Japanese becoming more active and essential in the world," an ANA spokeswoman said, adding the airline had received complaints that it was in fact discriminatory.

"There were people who took it that way, so we are paying attention to this and cancelling the ad."

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