In mid-2013, Nike released its Tattoo Tech line of leggings, bras, and bodysuits, which used black-and-white designs inspired by cultures from the Southwest Pacific, like Fiji, Samoa, and New Zealand. And by "inspired," we of course mean that an intern at Nike Googled cool-looking Samoan designs and slapped them on some crotch-armor without bothering to click through to the page and read up on them.
Or even first checking if the picture was a man or a woman. We've all been there.
That's right: They launched an entire clothing line using the same discerning process as a drunken frat boy picking his first tattoo. And just like Chad's unfortunate chest tattoo that turned out to say "pretty princess" in Chinese, the decision came back to bite Nike in the ass, because the designs were considered sacred in Polynesian culture.
The Samoan pe'a tattoo is a ritual marking that takes up to three extremely painful months to apply, and it's reserved specifically for boys who are finally becoming men. So it was a male puberty tattoo ... on women's underwear. Further, since each design has deep, spiritual meaning to the wearer, perhaps representing his accomplishments or his family lineage, these designs were also directly profiting from the ghosts of long-dead Samoans. If that's not a surefire way to get cursed, we don't know what is.
May your shoulders and neck suffer chronic pain and pressure.
Nike soon found itself facing backlash, boycotts, and even petitions accusing them of violating the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, not to mention the occasional angry spirit warrior. Ultimately, the company withdrew the line.
It's tempting to chock that all up to an unhappy accident, but the Polynesian cultural grave robbing was not the first time Nike launched a whole product line on oblivious offensiveness: The previous year, they unveiled a set of two-tone sneakers dubbed the SB Dunk Black and Tan, right in time for Saint Patrick's Day. Hey, good timing, seeing as how the shoes were named after a popular American cocktail made with Irish beer.
"These shoes are incendiary! We should call them the Irish Car Bomb!"
Ever wonder where that drink name comes from, though? We mean, aside from just generically describing a few colors? Well, in Ireland, "Black and Tans" referred to English constables during the Irish War of Independence. The repressive troops in black-and-tan-colored uniforms killed so many Irish civilians and burned down so many homes that their nickname became the go-to term for oppression and fear ...
... which Nike wanted you to put on your feet.
That's like naming a jogging shoe after the SS. We imagine some fresh-faced, eager marketing hack getting up on stage at product launch and gleefully informing the crowd that "Black and Tans help you run faster!"
Ryan Menezes is a writer and layout editor here at Cracked. He broke down and made a Twitter page just for his Cracked fans.
Related Reading: It gets worse. Zippo once tried to release a damn perfume. And that isn't nearly as bad as Kanye West's ridiculous travel agency. But hey, at least none of these products helped the Nazis. Which is more than we can say for Hugo Boss.
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