Silly Cup Noodle ad featuring Naomi Osaka sparks backlash

Naomi Osaka has been ranked No. 1 by the Women's Tennis Association. She is the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles. (Twitter/The China Post)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Naomi Osaka secured her 2nd US Open title on Sept. 12, making her one of the most promising athletes in the world at the mere age of 22.

In addition to being a force on the field, Osaka also speaks out for social issues, including the “Black Lives Matter” (BLM)  movement and other humanitarian issues, which are sometimes in contradiction with her role of the desired spokesmodel for advertisers. 

In the few weeks before obtaining her new US Open title, for instance, Osaka was featured in an advertisement for Nissin Cup Noodle; the silly way the ad depicted her drew a backlash online, however.

“Her image does not equate to stupid, but cute,” a social media user commented. 

Naomi Osaka(Courtesy of Naomi Osaka/Instagram/The ChinaPost)

The large print beside Osaka’s head reads “I want to go to Harajuku” which is known as an area in Tokyo often frequented by teenage girls for its numerous fashion stores.

The other text on the poster further reads, “Ms. Osaka, who likes Harajuku, is always showing off her fashionable bags and has an attractive style that incorporates current trends. It’s important to have your own style in both tennis and fashion. Cup Noodle too, keeps trends in mind by developing new flavors all the time.”

Many fans took issue with the fact that Osaka has proven on numerous occasions, her knowledge and passions toward bettering society and supporting social movements.

The ad, however, seemingly diminished her intelligence by painting her as a cute girl who only loves to shop.

This advertisement was in sharp contrast to her strong and smart performances on the field, angering fans.  

Responding to the tweet, one said: “Naomi Osaka isn’t just cute you know,” while another wrote, “This is just in bad taste.”

The other commented: “Naomi Osaka has a great personality and made great achievements. This ad is trying to reduce her to something cute just so old men don’t get upset.”

Naomi Osaka(Courtesy of Naomi Osaka/Instagram/The China Post)

On the other hand, one social media user also raised a question: “Isn’t it okay to portray Naomi Osaka as a naturally cute person as well?” 

It is fair to say that one can eat up opponents on the tennis court, be an outspoken supporter of human rights, and enjoy shopping for cute accessories in Harajuku. None of those character traits precludes the others.