All Nippon Airways, Japan’s largest airline, has managed to put their foot in their mouth with the help of a fake nose and blond wig.
ANA apologized on Monday, and said that it will modify the 30-second ad that started airing on Saturday to promote their expanded schedule of international flights from Tokyo’s Haneda airport. The carrier insisted they meant no offense.
The commercial shows two Japanese men—played by actor Hidetoshi Nishijima and comedian Hidetomo Masuno—dressed in ANA pilot uniforms discuss in English how they might boost the image of the airline as an international carrier.
Nishijima pushes Masuno and tells him that they need to step up, and exhorts, “Let’s change the image of Japanese people.”
Masuno replies, “Sure.” Then, we have the kicker: he’s wearing a blonde wig and long rubber nose. Blond hair and long or high (takai) noses are one of the features that many Japanese admire in us foreigners, but this one feels a bit cheap. The ad has already caused a stir in Japan, particularly among English-language social media users.
“I’ve just seen the new ANA advert… Really? ANA thinks this OK?!” Angela Fukutome said in a message posted on ANA’s Facebook page.
Another user said travelers should boycott the airline. “If you are a foreigner and have planned to come to #Japan do not choose an openly racist airline like #ANA! Watch their Japanese commercial,” Twitter user @sibylleito posted yesterday.
ANA spokesman Ryosei Nomura said the ad was urging Japanese people to go out to see the world by flying with the carrier’s beefed up international services from Haneda in March. Hopefully they won’t be wearing those noses, though.
“But we have received opinions different from the message that we wished to convey. We will modify part of the advertisement and will release the second version soon,” he said. The ad has now been pulled.
“We apologized to each of the customers for having caused uncomfortable feelings and also thanked them for bringing up the issue,” a spokeswoman for ANA told AFP.
You can see the ad below. Decide for yourself: is it racist, or just a case of very bad taste?
By Maesie Bertumen