Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) released a statement on Monday apologizing to their customers, and specifically to the ones who called in to complain about the racial stereotyping in the airline’s new TV commercial. ANA, one of Japan’s top three carriers, started showing their new 30-second ad on Saturday, and has released its apology due to the uproar the commercial has caused, but the airline management has still not decided whether it should pull the ad from circulation.
ANA’s new television advertisement was apparently aimed at promoting the airline’s improved schedule of international flights from Tokyo’s Haneda airport starting in March this year. In the commercial, two Japanese men were discussing in English how they might boost the image of the airline as an international carrier. One of them says: “Let’s change the image of Japanese people.” The other one replies in the affirmative while the other is now seen wearing a blonde wig and an improbably long rubber nose. In Japan, westerners are often believed to have big noses, blue eyes and blonde hair, characteristics that are generally desirable among Japanese.
The commercial was obviously intended for a Japanese audience, but it is generally considered crude to make such comments especially to foreigners who are sensitive and un-amused by this kind of racial humor. The ad caused a stir among English-language users of social media in Japan. Some questioned the judgment of ANA’s advertising team. “I’ve just seen the new ANA advert…Really? ANA thinks this is OK?!” a user posted on ANA’s Facebook page. Some have called ANA “openly racist” and have asked people to boycott their flights. An ANA spokeswoman said the carrier “has received calls from customers, mostly foreigners, complaining about the ad. We apologized to each of the customers for having caused uncomfortable feelings and also thanked them for bringing up the issue.” She added that, “We have passed on the issue to the section in charge of the advertisement, but as of now we have yet to decide how to deal with the commercial.”
[via Channel News Asia]