PETALING JAYA: Popular shoemaker Bata says an advertisement which led to accusations of racism on social media is part of an international campaign to celebrate over 100 years of history and diversity.
In a statement today, Bata said its “Shoes For Indian School Children” advertisement was part of a worldwide “Heritage” series campaign.
For the Malaysian market, it said, the company was selling two shoe models — the “Bata Bullets” and the “Bata Tennis”.
It said the “Bata Bullets” model was designed in 1964 for the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets.
The “Bata Tennis” meanwhile was created in 1936 in India for Physical Education classes in schools. It went on to become one of the best-selling school shoes of all time, with over half a billion pairs sold.
Unfortunately, the company said, its advertisement for the “Bata Tennis” model had been misunderstood locally.
“We at Bata do not discriminate against religion or race, never have, never will.
“We have been working in Malaysia since the 1930s, with people from all cultures and creeds.
“Malaysia’s multicultural identity mirrors our own,” said a statement from the company that originated from the Czech Republic.
Netizens recently took Bata to task after a picture of an advertisement with the tagline “Shoes For: Indian School Children” began making the rounds on social media.
Many felt that Bata was condoning racism and said the company should have worded its advertisement properly.
One netizen, on seeing an advertisement on a shop window promoting the “Indian school children” shoes said: “Are you kidding me, Bata. How could you say that? Do they have shoes for Chinese and Malays?”
This is the second time Bata has come into the limelight for the wrong reasons.
Earlier this month, the company is said to have lost RM500,000 after someone claimed it was selling shoes which had the word “Allah” imprinted on its sole circulated online.
This was later found out to be fake, but the damage had been done to the shoe brand which has been a household name in Malaysia for generations and has its factory in Klang.