Vans, a US-based sports brand, has removed what they say are a “small number” of submissions for their sneaker design competition because one of them gave a positive shout out to protests that are currently going on in Hong Kong. Companies are afraid of angering China.
Case in point – Tiffany & Co. recently deleted a Twitter advertisement that showed a female model that had her hand over her right eye, which could be a support of the protests. In August, a female medic was hospitalized after being shot in the eye with a pellet. She soon became a symbol of an excessive police force.
Tiffany spokesman Nathan Strauss claims that the image doesn’t have anything to do with the protests: “We regret that it may be perceived as such, and in turn have removed the image from our digital and social media channels and will discontinue its use effective immediately.”
Over 100.000 submissions from all around the world were entered the Vans Global Custom Culture competition. Media reports indicate that a competitor from Canada named Naomiso won the online vote before the submission was taken down.
The offending design in question features a red bauhinia, the flower that is on the flag of Hong Kong, as well as a yellow umbrella – a nod to “umbrella revolution” protests from 2014. A group of people in helmets, masks, and goggles are on the side of the sneakers.
In a Facebook post, Vans wrote: “Based on the global competition’s guidelines, Vans can confirm that a small number of artistic submissions have been removed. This decision was taken to uphold the purpose of Custom Culture.”
Also in a post on their Facebook page, Search Sneaker Shop, one of the most popular sneaker stores in Hong Kong, wrote: “Starting from today, every branch of our company will suspend sales of all Vans products.”