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2008/06/06

Profiting from Patriotism

Its an Olympic year and, more than that (and if you've been sleeping under a rock), the Olympics will be in Beijing, so you can imagine all the sports brands are coming out with collections of China related clothing. In this year of tragedy and nationalism, all things that show love for China are sure to sell, though one surprising item (read 'till the end), stands out among all the rest.

Nike, who will sponsor and supply uniforms for a number of Chinese athletes and teams, has done it up big with models of Liu Xiang and Yi Jianlian, among others, in their stores and Yi jerseys (notice no Yao, he's with Reebok) and other China gear all over the place. Adidas, who is the official sponsor of the Chinese squad and will be supplying all their medal stand outfits, hasn't come out with very much yet, but does have its officially licensed Beijing Olympics clothing as well as the Chinese national team soccer jersey in is stores. Li Ning, on the other hand, who for the first time in many years won't be outfitting Chinese athletes on the medal stand, has come out with a collection of their previous tracksuit designs (and shoes to go with them), including those from Athens, Sydney, Atlanta, and Barcelona. Finally, Umbro and Puma, neither having any connection to Chinese squads or athletes, have chosen to attempt to capitalize on the Olympics by releasing Beijing themed tshirts and other clothing.

Most interesting among all this, though, is Kappa. Before March, I Love China tshirts really didn't exist, but after the situation in T!bet, they suddenly found their way in shops across the country and after the earthquake, they became an instant necessity for every patriotic (or wannabe patriotic) Chinese the country over. These shirts could be found everywhere, typically selling for RMB10-20 and are the new nationwide trend.

At many Kappa stores around the city, you can now find their own edition of this tshirt, selling for far more than RMB20. I highly doubt they could have rushed these into stores in the days following the earthquake, and even if they could, I doubt they'd try it, having already run afoul of many young Chinese for their selling of a T!bet tracktop that included the flag of the independence movement. Perhaps the sentiment was originally meant as an apology after the situation in Western China (and criticism of the brand) flared up, but this attempt to make money off the current streak of patriotic sentiment running through the country is disturbing. Let's hope some of the profits from these tshirts will be donated to earthquake victims or some other charity (if anybody actually buys one).

2 comments:

Dan Harris said...

Why is it wrong to try to profit on patriotic items? Please explain.

james said...

It is disturbing and a concern, and I don't think Mr Harris fully understands the ramifications, nor the scale of the issue.

I think what the author is driving at, is that the problem lies in the word 'profit'. If it can't be seen what is wrong with 'patriotic profiteering', In my view, it is true that many lives have been lost in vain. (not in the name of freedom or equality).