July 2nd, 2008
10:00 AM ET
14 years ago

Japan phone company pulls 'monkey' ad that hints at Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/02/art.monkey.ap.jpg caption="A Japanese company has pulled a cell phone ad that uses a monkey that appears to portray Obama. "](CNN) - A Japanese cell phone company has pulled one of its television ads that used a monkey that appears to portray Sen. Barack Obama.

The commercial opens with a crowd rallying behind a well-dressed monkey speaking from a podium. The supporters are cheering and waving signs that say “Change.” In the ad, the monkey was encouraging users to change providers.

Watch: Cell phone company pulls ad

The company behind the ad, eMobile Ltd., insists it had no idea of any racial undertones and says the ad was just a nod at Obama’s worldwide popularity.

Eric Gan, president of eMobile, points out that their company’s mascot is a monkey – an animal revered in Japan - and has been used in previous ads.

“When we saw the idea for the first time, it was ‘Hey, you're copying the idea from the presidential election in the U.S.’ Yes, but, you know, that's how you make a presentation. How you make an impact. We thought it quite was interesting,” he said.

Bloggers immediately voiced their disapproval of the ad and accused the company of being racist.

Gan says the company was unaware of how the ad might be interpreted, but “now, of course, we know.”


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. joe

    Karl Rove and republicans must be stooping a new low!

    July 2, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. Truth B Told

    WELL SINCE CNN WON'T PUBLISH THEIR BACKERS THEN HOW ABOUT THE PEOPLE! HERE ARE THE COMPANIES THAT ARE SHAREHOLDERS IN THIS COMPANY!!! CAN YOU RECOGNIZE ANY AMERICAN COMPANIES HERE???

    eAccess Ltd.
    The Goldman Sachs Group – HUMMMM
    Temasek
    Tokyo Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS)
    Woodperker Group
    New World TMT Limited
    Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

    July 2, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. CW4Barak

    Well at least some people are standing up for something....can't say the same for McBush.

    July 2, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. Frank

    Who cares, it is just a commercial.

    July 2, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. Perkins, Dallas Tx

    WOW!!!!!

    July 2, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. gail

    Ya, right, the next ad will be in canada or Britain and we can bring it here. Why is this news if it is not in u.s? Talk of Karl Rove new tactics emerge!

    July 2, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    it would be funny if it was any other animal. I am sure they didn't know any better. If we went to japan I am sure that we would not understand all of the customs that they fallow every day.

    July 2, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  8. NoMcSame

    Oh no they didn't!!! Not the cute little Japanese people. They wouldn't do anything like that. They would not call a Black person a monkey, would they? YES THEY WOULD.

    July 2, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. Susan

    Gave me a laugh,,,,,,,,,,,,but it's rude. Glad they pulled the ad off.

    Obama/Hillary 08

    July 2, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  10. JJ

    Gan says the company was unaware of how the ad might be interpreted, but “now, of course, we know.”

    Someone in an executive position such as that should have known better! Rude and Ignorant to say the least!

    July 2, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  11. democrat in the white house

    Japan is trying to capitalize on the Obamania to looks like !!!

    July 2, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  12. richie

    Republicans have no money. Have nothing to run on and they are not in line with American people. When their brand is all damaged then they can try and ruin others because Obama has more money, message that resonates and is a charismatic candidate that communicate effectively like Ron Reagan.
    Karl Rove should be confronted. Now he is going around Japan to bring this kind of nonsense!

    July 2, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  13. NOT SURE

    Japan is extremely xenophobic and insular. they are so racist they don't even know it.

    July 2, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. Dominick Migos

    Soon they will use an albino pig ads to portray John Mc Cain!!! We need to read some intresting news frow Political Ticker and not a such senseless news wich has nothing to do with the future of the American people please...

    July 2, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. Teresa

    Shame on you eMobile, you should not copy the idea of Obama.
    You know that his die-hard sheeps deemed him as their mesiah!!!!.
    BECAUSE he is the ONLY one that can copy whatever he wants.
    Let's see......he copied the US presidential seal and replaced E Pluribus Unum with Vero Possumus and copied Bob the Builder theme song: Yes We Can!!!........REMEMBER.
    You're supposed not to mess with him.

    July 2, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  16. An American

    I thought the monkey was supposed to be chimpy Bush?

    July 2, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. Sam Taveras

    Japanese people don't really know much about America's racial history and racial undertones.

    July 2, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  18. Pal

    Now the republicans will be doing dirty tricks and go around other countries to bring it here. This is non news if it happened in japan!

    July 2, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. JimBlanco

    Let the wacky liberal conspiracy theories begin.....

    July 2, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  20. Jason

    First five posts and only one rational voice! Get over yourselves people quit thinking everything is eather a Repub attack or racism the world is bigger than your ignorant mind!

    July 2, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. Jack

    WHY does EVERYTHING said or connected to Obama have to be viewed as Racist by his campaign and followers??????
    STOP with all the race stuff!

    July 2, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. ddanquah

    William Ayers I guess you are one of those Republicans who will vote for a monkey instead of a Democrat. God Has seen you all.

    July 2, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  23. oil rules

    Ha, dems blaming Rove for this too?? They must think he really has a lot of power. I guess he did steal a couple presedential elections, hahahaha! Better watch out, he might steal this from Obama too (or the monkey).

    July 2, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  24. leeloo

    I don't think it was racism motivating that ad. That sort of racism is specific to the U.S. and western colonial powers. Animals especially monkeys have an important place in the cultural and spiritual life of Japan and other Asian countries. This story is really lame.

    July 2, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  25. RJ from NJ

    Oh MY!!
    This is outrageous!

    Al Sharpton.... where are YOU?!
    I would have figured you'd have a statement out to the press by now.

    Please fly to Japan immediately and conduct a full investigation!
    Take your entourage. Hold a few demonstrations there.
    Stay at least 8 months. Hopefully more.

    July 2, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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