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Black and Tan Trainers. Just don’t do it.

By Emma Clarke

Nike’s intentions were positive. They planned to release “Black and Tan” trainers to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day – the colors of Guinness you see!

However, unfortunately, no one at Nike realized the historical significance behind those words. The “Black and Tan” force, so-called due to their uniform, was a group of 8,000 British men who were given the task of fighting the IRA. They became infamous in Ireland because of their violence against civilians, especially on Bloody Sunday 21 November 1920.

Worryingly, Nike isn’t the only company to make the exact same mistake. Ben & Jerry’s also christened a tub of their ice cream “Black and Tan”.

Even though it was English to English, they should have transcreated the slogan in order to make sure that it was okay. They've done irreparable damage to their brand.

If they had come to Wolfestone we would have been able to run an in-country review. We would get customers in that target market to give their comments on a proposal, and this would have probably flagged up any issues.

We previously had a client whose slogan translated brilliantly into Dutch and German, but would have been offensive to the French and Polish markets because of its religious overtones. This was picked up by the in-country reviewers, and the translation team changed the slogan to improve the impact in France and Poland.

To avoid giving your brand any negative publicity always consider running an in-country review.

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