Nike sorry over 'Black and Tan' shoe

Sports wear company Nike has apologised for a controversy that arose over the name of its new runner - "The Black and Tan".

Sports wear company Nike has apologised for a controversy that arose over the name of its new runner - "The Black and Tan".

Nike said the shoe “has been unofficially named by some using a phrase that can be viewed as inappropriate and insensitive. We apologise. No offence was intended.”

The company released two new beer-themed skateboarding shoes to coincide with St Patrick’s Day - the Guinness, featuring a black leather upper and tan elements, and a variation of a Nike shoe that was called The Black and Tan because of its colouring.

The nickname refers to a mixed-beer drink popularised in the United States, consisting of a half pint of stout topping a half pint of ale or lager. An image of the drink is pictured on the inside of the shoe.


For Irish people, however, the name recalls the British paramilitary unit that was involved in violent action against civilians in the 1920s.

“When launched, it is likely to be available in several countries albeit in limited numbers. It won't be on sale in Ireland as we hadn't planned to distribute it in Ireland,” a spokesperson for Nike said.

This is not the first time a company has failed to appreciate the global implications of a new product name. Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s released a “Black and Tan” ice cream flavour six years ago, also referring to the drink. While the product was only available in the United States, Ben & Jerry’s apologised.

“If you hadn't told me this, I wouldn't think twice about the sneaker name - no different than releasing a shoe called a ‘lemon drop’,” said Jacqueline Klimas, a US journalist.

Comments on this story on Facebook:

Blair Schilling, who studied at NUI Galway: “I knew about them {Black and Tans], but not before I came to Ireland,”.

Aoife NicAodh: “I only ever heard of it when I was playing an online game and they decided it was a good drink to have in their online ‘Irish’ bar. When I told them it was a really f***ing insensitive name, especially for an ‘Irish’ bar, they just shrugged more or less”.

Lauren Cohen: “This is a shockingly common practice, giving things inappropriate names. For example, the Reebok Incubus. Then there was the appliance company that wanted to name something Zyklon. Zyklon B was the insecticide used in gas chambers during the Holocaust.”

Twitter comments:

Oliver Farry, Irish journalist living in Paris - “@fearraigh75: Memo to US branders: your local Irish bar notwithstanding, 'Black and Tan' and St. Patrick's Day don't go well together”

Pete O'Mara Kane, from London – “@pomarakane: Wow . . . happy saint Patrick’s day . . . I wonder how many Irish Americans will know the significance...”