Nike has been forced to change the wording of an ad for its Australian Open apparel, accused of a ‘tone-deaf’ reference to the bushfire crisis.
As swaths of the country suffered extensive damage and the death toll from the long-running crisis hit 24, Nike caused some anger with an ad for its knee-length female bodysuit.
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“Melbourne also tracks the hottest temperatures of any of tennis’ four majors,” an article on the Nike website read.
“Averaging more than 100 degrees (37 degrees Celsius), the heat challenges players and, in turn, NikeCourt’s apparel designers to outduel the fiery conditions.”
New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg was quick to call out the poor choice of words on Twitter.
“Juuuust a bit tone deaf here, Nike,” he wrote while reposting the article.
A number of users commented on Rothenberg’s post, labelling the gaffe ‘appalling’ and ‘inappropriate’.
This is appalling....— Jane Macdonald (@JaneSMacd) January 3, 2020
Tone deaf to the point of disrespectful.— AllAboutTennisBlog (@TennisBlogger1) January 3, 2020
What the 🤦🏻♀️— Shawna Rossi 🎾🏌🏻♀️🧘🏻♀️🏃🏻♀️🚴🏻♀️💃🏻⛵️ (@MyRetailTherapy) January 3, 2020
Just the raging fires burning peoples homes, displacing residents and the animals who are suffering. But oh, just wear this hiseous Nike kit and all is solved— Destined4Greatness (@BeachChairNY) January 4, 2020
Oh dear. They forgot to look outside their bubble.— Cate (@Cateppics) January 4, 2020
Hello @Nike we have had fires since September so you should have known this was inappropriate or have been taking tips from #ScottyfromMarketing #AustraliaBurning #ClimateEmergency #AustraliaOnFire #ClimateActionNow— 💧ella_bella🔥 (@its_ella_bella) January 4, 2020
Nike later changed the phrasing on their website.
“This garment is informed by Atlas body-mapping to identify the areas that tend to overheat (notably under the bra and at the neckline) and is pieced together to maximise breathability in those spaces,” the new write-off said.
Ash Barty joins sporting stars in bushfire pledge
Ash Barty was flying home across Australia following the Fed Cup final when she saw the early signs of devastation from the wildfires that are still raging in large parts of the vast island continent.
So the problem hasn't just dawned on her, the highest-profile tennis star in Australia, like it may have for some players arriving for the season-opening events. But the scale and gravity of the situation is really hitting home.
Barty went to a nearby animal shelter after she returned from the Fed Cup loss to France in Perth last November and donated money, because at that stage animals were the main casualties of the flames.
Now, with Australia in the grip of its worst wildfire season in recorded history and with a human death toll of 24, Barty is joining the fundraising for a bigger relief effort.
The No. 1-ranked Barty is donating any prize money she wins at the Brisbane International, her home tournament, to the Australian Red Cross for the recovery effort. The winner of the tournament, which starts Monday, will earn more than $360,000.
“It's been really terrible, it really has. For me this started two or three months ago,” Barty said of the damage caused.
“We have to remember, this has been going on for a long time across our whole country. The first I saw of it was actually flying home ... to the east coast and we could see some of the smoke and some of the fires.
“Obviously the worst of it is still out there at the moment. Now it's not just the wildlife, it's also affected Australians with their lives and their homes."
Actors, athletes, entertainers and everyday citizens have committed millions of dollars in pledges to the relief effort, and organisers of sports events are setting up fundraising events.
Australian Open organisers will hold a special charity event on January 15, five days before the season's first major begins in Melbourne.
Nick Kyrgios was among the first tennis players to pledge, promising $200 for every ace he hits this month. He served 20 in Australia's opening win at the ATP Cup.