It took longer then three minutes, but Cup Noodle got everyone steaming again.

On 13 September, 22-year-old Naomi Osaka again won the US Open, marking her third Grand Slam title in as many years. It’s a great accomplishment, further establishing her position as one of the best to ever grace the courts.

But even before all this took place, on 1 September, major instant noodle maker Nissin and their flagship brand Cup Noodle, with whom Osaka has an endorsement deal, released the following ad cheering on their favorite player.

“The Grand Slam has finally begun! After brainstorming ways that we could cheer Naomi Osaka on to victory, we came to the conclusion that if we make everyone like her, it’s a win. So, we’ll put this cute bit of information here. Good Luck Ms. Osaka!”

In the ad itself, the large print beside Osaka’s head reads “I want to go to Harajuku” referring to the area of Tokyo frequented by teenage girls and lined with fashion shops of all types.

▼ Our reporter Seiji Nakazawa after an evening of shopping in Harajuku

The finer print contains the following message:

“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.”

This tweet was made before Osaka took to the court wearing the first of seven masks with the names of black people killed by police in the U.S., which added a whole other layer of gravitas to the event. So, it wasn’t until the tournament concluded two weeks later that people online began to take notice of Cup Noodle’s tone regarding the champion and flooded it with complaints.

“Naomi Osaka isn’t just cute you know.”
“This is just in bad taste.”
“Naomi Osaka has a great personality and great achievements. This ad is trying to reduce her to something cute just so old men don’t get upset.”
“This is typical Japanese media, saying that women have no value unless they are stupid and cute.”
“What is this ‘if we make everyone like her, it’s a win’ crap?! Athletes are not idols.”

“This doesn’t convey the charm of Osaka, this twists it into the opposite. It comes across like Nissin doesn’t really like her, and if so they should just terminate the contract.”
“Japanese sponsors haven’t been keeping up with Osaka’s wisdom and courage.”
“A terribly insulting ad that panders to misogynists online.”

The list of complaints goes on, but among it there were a few who raised the question: “Isn’t it okay to portray Naomi Osaka as a naturally cute person as well?” It certainly seems 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.

Added to that is the well-documented fact that Naomi Osaka is pretty heavily involved in the fashion industry, having collaborated with labels and designers for quite some time now. In fact, at almost the exact same time as this writing, Osaka excitedly announced the launch of her latest collection with Japanese label Adeam.

As someone inside the fashion industry, it’s no surprise that Osaka would like to go to Harajuku and see what’s happening. However, had the Nissin ad makers even briefly mentioned that simple yet exponentially more empowering fact in their blurb, they might have represented her more accurately and saved themselves a lot of trouble.

In the end, maybe Nissin ads ought to stick to their strong point of being utterly absurd since this is the second time they got into trouble with Naomi Osaka. It seems more and more likely that they start to have trouble the closer they come to depicting real life.

▼ Maybe they can do something with her that’s completely detached from reality like they did with Kane Kosugi

Last year they inexplicably rendered her with an extraordinarily white complexion in an anime ad. Interestingly, after that debacle Nissin apologized to Osaka, who later told media, “I definitely think that the next time they try to portray me or something, I feel like they should talk to me about it.”

And I have a feeling another apology call is on its way.

Source: Twitter/cupnoodle_jp, Hachima Kiko
Photos ©SoraNews24
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