Japan's ANA pulls "big nose" TV ad after online furore

TOKYO Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:51pm IST

An employee walks past a All Nippon Airways (ANA) logo at New Tokyo international airport in Narita, east of Tokyo January 11, 2013. REUTERS/Shohei Miyano

An employee walks past a All Nippon Airways (ANA) logo at New Tokyo international airport in Narita, east of Tokyo January 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Shohei Miyano

Stocks

   

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's largest carrier All Nippon Airways (9202.T) said on Tuesday it was pulling a TV advertisement featuring a Japanese actor in a large false nose and blonde wig after it was criticised online for having racist overtones.

The ad, which is in English with Japanese subtitles, promotes ANA's expanded international flight schedule from Tokyo's Haneda Airport. Japan, host of the 2020 Summer Olympics, is trying to attract more tourists amid a sharp rise in visitors over the last year, particularly from Asia.

In the ad, which began airing on Jan 18, two men in ANA pilot uniforms chat about how they will now be heading off to new destinations such as Hanoi and Vancouver.

"Let's change the image of Japanese!" one says, and turns to his companion, who now wears a large fake nose and a brassy blond wig, in line with Japanese stereotypes about Europeans. "Of course," he replies.

In another version of the ad, one man surprises his companion by offering to hug him. Public displays of affection, especially between men, are uncommon in Japan.

The ad unleashed a torrent of mostly negative comments on ANA's Facebook page, with some people saying they had cancelled their loyalty cards. Other online commentators, however, said they liked the commercial while some said it was simply strange, rather than racist.

ANA apologised for the ad on its Facebook page, and Japanese media said the company had also apologised to customers who called in to complain.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman said the ad would be taken off air. The airline had yet to decide what it would do with versions on other media, she added.

"We heard a lot of opinions from customers about points in our ad that didn't match with our intention," the spokeswoman said. "Our intention was to show Japanese becoming more active and essential to the world."

She said the wig and the fake nose were intended to show Japanese becoming more accepted overseas, adding the airline did not intend to discriminate against anybody.

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

The ad aired only in Japan, but also spread on Internet video sharing sites.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Polanski Questioned

Polanski Questioned

Polish prosecutors question Polanski over U.S. sex crime warrant.  Full Article 

Cook Speaks Up

Cook Speaks Up

Apple's Cook signals front line of new gay rights battle.  Full Article 

Upcoming Project

Upcoming Project

Coen Brothers tap Clooney, Johansson for all-star studio comedy.  Full Article 

Book Talk

Book Talk

Alan Cumming believes in putting everything out there.  Full Article 

Wrongful Death Suit

Wrongful Death Suit

Gregg Allman dropped from suit over fatal Georgia train accident.  Full Article 

Talking Television

Talking Television

Frances McDormand's face does the talking in 'Olive Kitteridge'.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage