Opinion | I am hurt by lack of Asian representation in Nike ads

Taiwanese are accustomed to figures of white and black Americans using products that are designed to fit their body and reflect their culture. (Courtesy of Li-Chun Pan)

I am a Taiwanese student who lives in Chiayi, Taiwan. I am deeply fond of Nike’s products for their utilities and aesthetics and have been a long-time patron of the U.S. brand, yet I have observed a problem in its stores that prompted me to write this letter. 

Chiayi City’s main commercial street, Zhongshan Road, is filled with retail stores of internationally renowned companies such as Nike. Nonetheless, somehow in a city where most residents are Asians, Nike’s signboards homogeneously consist of white and black models.

These models, albeit young and strong, make it difficult for me to depict myself using Nike’s products since I cannot racially associate with them. 

It is important that demonstrators of your items are racially relatable for Taiwanese shoppers since we will not be able to make the right purchase without the correct visualization in mind.

The models on the signboard, who are usually white or black, have physiques significantly different than that of average Taiwanese.

Products that look good on white models often do not look as attractive on Taiwanese shoppers; on the other hand, sportswear that might look charming on Taiwanese customers might be overlooked for not having the right demonstrators to showcase them. 

In addition, since the Taiwanese culture is significantly different than the American culture, a piece of clothing that looks natural on a white or black model may feel out of place on a Taiwanese buyer.

As a result of globalization and the dominant American culture, Taiwanese who go to the theater and watch Netflix are accustomed to figures of white and black Americans using products that are designed to fit their physiques and reflect their culture.

Therefore, we feel natural when we see pictures of black or white athletes wearing a piece of clothing that is intended to reflect their culture. Encouraged by a skilled salesperson in the store, we often decide to purchase items that we later find out of place to wear. 

Of course, there are exceptions to the situation that I proposed; some in-store posters are starting to include Asian models, as well. However, the inability to find racially relatable models in the street and the department store is still a problem that Taiwanese shoppers face every time we want to make a purchase.

I would like to request a change to this situation; I urge you to hire more Taiwanese models and require your retail stores in Taiwan to use their pictures on signboards to pay tribute to the Taiwanese market.