Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thank God He Isn't German

Despite the fact that it was (accurately) called out as offensive yesterday by Deadspin, as of 6AM today, the Cubs' site on is still running an approving story about the their Fukudome/rising sun promotion:

Kosuke Fukudome is among the players featured in a new ad campaign unveiled on Tuesday designed to showcase the international breadth and depth of the Cubs. A graphic red, white and blue image of the Japanese outfielder that includes a rising sun includes the statement, "I don't need an interpreter. My bat does the talking."

My first thought was that the folks responsible for the Cubs' website simply didn't read the biggest sports website around, because if they did, they certainly would have realized the coming backlash and taken the story down. When I read further, however, I realized that this probably wasn't this case. Rather, they are simply sociopaths with no conception of what's offensive and what is not. Proof:

There also is an ad with pitcher Kerry Wood that will feature the Texas flag.

Texas?! Those insensitive monsters!

OK, that was a dumb joke. I love Texas. Here's a good joke, written by Deadspin commenter Ronzookonredbull:

What do the Japanese Imperial Navy and the 2008 Cubs season have in common?

They're both finished by Midway.



Marc in Tallahassee said...

I'm a Japanese American (my father is Japanese). The Japanese battle flag, the rising sun, is not only offensive to the countries mentioned in the deadspin post. It's offensive to many Japanese as well. It's not offensive accross the board, of course. Japan has had an ongoing argument along similar lines as the argument in this country over the confederate battle flag. (They have the same nativist faction that finds it offensive to teach children that their country was somehow 'evil' in the past. And they have the same faction that argues the flag represents a past they'd like never to repeat.)

While we should leave it to the Japanese to sort that one out, one thing all Japanese would agree on is that the battle flag, regardless of one's position on it, is obviously too politically divisive to be used in a baseball ad.

Jason said...

Interesting view, Marc. My thought is this: ignorance. Whomever designed this ad clearly did not grasp the underlying meaning of including that battle flag.

Intentions were likely apolitical but just an unfortunate choice.

Hell, the swastica used to be a symbol of good luck (or strength) before the Nazis got hold of it.

64cardinals said...

I know that no one will agree with me, but shouldn't this fall under the category of "who cares"?

There are plenty of people in the world who don't like the idea or the image of the American flag. Re: all the Muslims burning our flag after the "DANES" published cartoons of Muhammed. Our flag is seen as the sign of an evil empire (I disagrree). But the image of the American flag is still used and seen all over the world.

People being offendend for other people is what Al Sharpton does.

Shouldn't this be a matter for the people who actually log on to the website being offended for a real grievance, not media types telling them they should be offended? If 99% of Americans don't even understand the reference, and have to be told, and the Japanese use it as an official flag of their Defense Forces, how are they offended?

If you have to lead people by the hand to be offended, and do thier thinking for them, does anyone really care what they think?

And I know what everyone's response will be, so skip the profanity and get to the point. Kids read this also.

brubby said...

There are a couple Red Sox/Dice K shirts floating around with the same motif...

Justin said...

Wouldn't this kind of be like the Mavs running a marketing campaign with a big swastika on it for Nowitski?

I'm not in marketing, but I think a slogan with something about unleashing a blitzkrieg on the enemy would be appropriate...

I'm not offended by it, but I can still see that they probably shouldn't do it?

Shyster said...

Probably not as bad as a swastika, but it ain't exactly benign either.

I'm personally not offended by it, but I am rather perplexed because you have to figure SOMEONE will be. And while, sure, in the normal course of things we shouldn't care what the most sensitive among us think, people in the marketing business ALWAYS react when someone cries offense, so you from that perspective it's a dumb move in a marketing campaign.

And as I said above, in the day or two after this was announced, MLB was talking big about exploiting the Chinese market. Unlike us, the Chinese do have a real reason to take offense because that flag represents the dudes who came into their country and committed genocide. A while ago? Sure, but the Chinese government still uses that very effectively to stoke anti-Japanese sentiment, so for the people in China, it feels much closer than 60-70 years.

So again, dumb move from a marketing perspective.