Sunday, November 7, 2004

Nike's "Extinguish Fire But With Base"

Nike Basketball's latest ad campaign to promote their basketball shoes featuring Lebron James has made some interesting mistakes.

I am sure Nike has plenty of well paid language experts working on this "trans-cultural" promotion, but some details have slipped away under their eyes.

When I first read the slogan in the image above, it said "extinguish fire but with base". After I read it over several times more, then I realized it was meant to say "extinguish fire from the base", not "with the base".

Frankly, it sounded like an ad for antifungal medication. Watch out, Tinactin, you have got competition!

= go away, leave, depart

= fire, flame; burn; anger, rage

= only; but, however, yet, still

= indeed, yes, right; to be; demonstrative pronoun, this, that

= and; together with; with; peace; harmony; union

= foundation, base

This character circled in the poster is missing a dot on top. The correct character is and means "real, true, solid, honest".

= exaggration without any truth

Update: Nike has responded to my email (pdf file).


  1. Wow, that's really pretty weak. Especially considering that a nontrivial portion of Nike's employees are Chinese sweatshop workers -- what possible excuse, other than laziness, can they have for screwing up the ad so badly?

  2. I don't think those Chinese sweatshop workers can afford to buy a pair of these running shoes, Brendan. These running shoes are for those people who consider everything about Chinese is cool regardless the characters are wrongly written or not.

    *covering her eyes*,


  3. It really has nothing to do with who makes them. In a company the ad is entirely the work of the highly paid marketing department, who made total fool of themselves, I mean this is a worse job than those by the street tattoo artists. It is not very clear who the ad is targeting. If for the western market, they would make a few bucks more than the tattoo parlors. If for the Chinese market they will generate serious laughs.

  4. Could it be that they had wanted "去火但是合脚"?

  5. "Extinguish fire from the base" sounds like instructions on a fire extinguisher. Perhaps the graphic artist doing the ad just grabbed the first characters they saw.