Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Nike nabs a mixed bag with Uno and Akiyama

By Jordan Breen (Sherdog)

Athletic apparel giant Nike has thrust two Japanese competitors into the spotlight this past week, with mixed results.

On the bright side, fighter-cum-fashionista Caol Uno has grabbed attention with the release of the Nike Court Force Low and Free Trail on Feb. 3. The shoes were designed by the former Shooto world champion as part of a collection series titled 10AC, an alphanumeric reversal of the name "Caol." While both the Court Force Low and the Free Trail feature a smooth, basic all-white design, the Court Force Low has drawn attention and acclaim for its characteristic woven tongue and toe cap.

However, on a less positive note, Nike Japan has been flooded with angry responses from Japanese viewers over their recent television ad featuring disgraced HERO'S 187-pound tournament winner Yoshihiro Akiyama (Pictures). The 60-second commercial spot, in which Akiyama appears alongside sport superstars such as Lebron James and Roger Federer, was filmed prior to Akiyama's Oil of Olay-oriented controversy stemming from his New Year's Eve fight with Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures).

When Nike chose to proceed with the advertisements despite Akiyama's recent controversy, they were swamped with e-mails and telephone calls from viewers, many of whom claimed that not only was it improper for Akiyama to be showcased in an advertising campaign given his actions, but that by choosing him as a representative of mixed martial arts, Nike was denigrating the sport.

At the present time, Nike has stated no plans to pull the ads from television circulation.

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