Since winning the Australian Open and the U.S. Open against her idol Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka has taken the top-spot in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings, becoming the first Asian to hold the top spot in either men’s or women’s tennis.
Her success has brought her a lot of attention from the media, particularly in Japan, where her love of katsudon (pork cutlet rice bowls) and her half-Haitian, half-Japanese background remains a solid talking point. And one thing Japanese reporters can’t stop themselves from doing is asking her to answer their questions in Japanese.
After shutting down these reporters in the past, Osaka is now returning to address them and all others like them, with a new commercial for Nike. In the ad, she slams back at all the insensitive and impertinent questions that get served to her during interviews, and has just one word to silence them all.
Take a look at the ad below:
In the clip, Osaka can be seen on the court, showing off her strong playing style as a volley of questions roll by. There’s “Who’s your biggest rival?”, “Are you a hard court specialist?” and “Do you consider yourself Japanese or American?”
Then there are a few questions in Japanese, including “What are you going to buy with your prize money?”, “Can you answer in Japanese?” and “Will you eat katsudon again today?”
Then, at the end of the ad, Osaka turns to the camera and has just one thing to say in response to all those questions.
In true Nike style, the clip delivers a strong message at the end: “Don’t change yourself. Change the world.”
It’s a message that fits in nicely with Osaka’s public image, as a woman who continues to do her own thing while drowning out all the stereotypical questions from the media who want to place her in neat, narrow-minded boxes.
And judging from the reaction online in Japan, it’s a message a lot of Japanese people agree with too.
“What a fantastic ad! I hope everyone sees this.”
“Some of the questions in English are annoying but the Japanese questions are even more annoying.”
“Such a great insight into what she has to deal with every day.”
“Japanese reporters need to watch this ad.”
“The Japanese media need to have more respect for her as an elite sportswoman.”
The Nike ad has definitely got everyone talking, and while it takes a different approach to one of her previous ads for Japanese brand Nissin, it’s definitely a step up from the controversial ad that whitewashed her appearance.
It’ll be interesting to see if this new commercial will have any effect on the types of questions reporters plan to throw at Osaka next time she does a round of interviews. Hopefully they’ll reign in the talk about katsudon and her ethnicity, and focus on her contribution to the world of sport, because as the star tennis player has said in the past, regardless of her dining preferences, background, and language ability, “I’m just me.”
Source, images: YouTube/Nike Japan
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