Three weeks ago, we posted a story about the success of Turkey’s economy and how this is manifested in the ability of the national carrier to sign household names like Kobe Bryant to front their campaigns. Like every story, there is more than one way to interpret it and we thank one of our readers for reminding us of that.
Naturally, Armenian-Americans are unhappy about Kobe’s two-year endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines (THY); having long exerted pressure for official recognition of genocide claims by the US government, unhappy is actually an understatement, enraged is more like it.
The tension stems from Turkey’s denial that the killings of Anatolian Armenians during World War I constitute genocide. Turkey says the deaths were a result of civil unrest that accompanied the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and obviously Armenians aren’t buying it.
This issue is quite topical so Kobe Bryant can’t exactly claim he doesn’t know what the situation is; a symbolic resolution on the Armenian claims was passed by a House committee in the US Congress in March, but amid protests from Ankara, the House Democratic leadership never brought it to the floor for a vote.
Becoming the “global brand ambassador” for Turkish Airlines (THY) for the next two years has prompted Armenian-American groups to protest through radio and social media sites with some claiming Kobe’s deal as ‘anti-human rights’.
This has led to calls for the boycott all things Kobe, with some 600,000 to 700,000 Armenians living in southern California; it looks like the Los Angeles Lakers will also be coming in for some of the heat.
The Turkish American community are of course in support of the deal and described Armenian claims as ‘harassment and racist’.
So should Kobe have stayed away from the deal, was endorsing Turkish Airlines (THY) insensitive or just business?