All Nippon Airways ‘racist’ ad modified, ‘I’ve seen worse caricatures of Asians in the West’

An ad for Japanese air carrier All Nippon Airways has been modified following allegations that it is racist.

The commercial features two Japanese men, one of whom wears a fake nose and a blonde wig to pass himself off as Caucasian after being told “Let’s change the image of Japanese people.”

The reaction to the ad has been widely reported in the international press, and also by local newspapers such as Nikkei, after English-speaking viewers on the ad expressed their displeasure in social media.

A spokesman for the airline has said that the carrier wanted to highlight a new emphasis on international routes from Tokyo and to encourage Japanese to travel overseas more.

Kan Taniguchi, marketing director at independent creative agency Tugboat, commented that he believes the ad does not intend to be racist, and is portraying an aspiration of the brand to be more worldly and Western.

Taniguchi told Mumbrella: “The message in the ad reads: ‘Let’s improve the image of Japanese’. This shows that the brand is aspiring to be part of the world, and to be respected by westerners.”

“The approach is playful. Caricatures of foreigners in Japan are nothing new – you see them all the time in Japanese comedy.”

“I’ve seen worse caricatures of Asians in the West. I don’t find it to be racist,” he said.


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