Al Horford of the Boston Celtics was asked on Tuesday what he thinks of the controversy surrounding Nike’s China advertising campaign and China’s controversial treatment of women, and for most people this might be a surprisingly hard question to answer. After all, the company, which is best known for the Air Jordan and Nike Air Max sneakers, has long had an excellent track record of choosing major brands to represent its products in the region. But Horford gave an interesting response to ESPN on Tuesday, saying that he thinks Nike is “scared to speak up” on the matter.
“Nike, it’s part of Nike. It’s part of them,” he said of the company’s relationship with Chinese authorities. “They do what they need to do.”
Horford, a native of the Caribbean island of Barbados, seems to be speaking here about Nike’s behavior in China in general, and not necessarily specifically about his employer’s actions. Nike has been fined in the past for breaking labor laws and launching ads that appeared to portray China and Tibet as a separate country and characterizing Chinese political corruption as OK, but hasn’t faced harsh criticism — or even the public hearings necessary to get in trouble — like those who have recently done so with PVH, the parent company of the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein brands.
Those who have come out in defense of China have defended their country by saying that it doesn’t have a lot of freedom and Nike should mind its own business. For that, it’s good to know that Horford understands what it is like to be a major brand’s representative in China.
Read the full story at ESPN.
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