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Nike, Muji Skewered by Influential Chinese Consumer Show

The 315 show can hit a firm's reputation if singled out for bad corporate behaviour. Apple was forced into a rare apology in 2013 after criticism on the show of its China after-sales service.
Nike Metcon | Source: Nike
By
  • Reuters

SHANGHAI, China — China's annual consumer rights day TV show turned its spotlight on US sports brand Nike Inc for false advertising and Japanese brand Muji for selling food products allegedly sourced from part of Japan affected by radiation.

The state-run China Central Television (CCTV) show — which can have brands and their corporate PR teams scurrying to take evasive action — said certain Nike shoes sold in China did not have "Zoom Air" cushions despite advertising that suggested they did.

Similar to CBS network's "60 Minutes" in the United States, the CCTV show - known as "315" in reference to global consumer rights day on March 15 - has previously named and shamed firms from Apple Inc to Volkswagen AG .

The two-hour show - a mix of undercover reports and song-and-dance - also highlighted Japanese brands including Muji, owned by Ryohin Keikaku Co, which it said sold food products in China from an area of Tokyo where high levels of radiation were detected in 2015.

Reuters could not immediately reach Nike or Muji for comment.

The show also took aim at fake eye doctors for scamming patients, animal breeders for over-using medicines to make animals grow faster, and China's Wikipedia-like Baike.com.

The 315 show can hit a firm's reputation if singled out for bad corporate behaviour. Apple was forced into a rare apology in 2013 after criticism on the show of its China after-sales service.

"Pretty much all the big corporations have their PR machines ready to jump into action because they've seen what happens when companies are not prepared," said James Feldkamp, Shanghai-based CEO of independent China consumer watchdog Mingjian.

While the annual program has lost some of its bite in recent years, Wednesday's version was harder hitting than last year's, which criticized local food delivery apps, fake online sales and dodgy false teeth, but didn't take aim at any major international firms.

Ahead of the show, some Chinese shoppers told Reuters they would probably not watch it, but would check the next day to see who had been targeted.

"What I pay attention to is food safety. After all, what you eat has a direct affect on your health," said Maple Zhu, a 27-year-old media professional in Shanghai.

"The impact, though, on consumers is usually short-lived. After a little while most people just forget."

By Adam Jourdan and Jackie Cai; editor: Ian Geoghegan.

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