I was watching TV in a Hong Kong cafe last night when a jarring image at the end of a commercial caught my eye. It was this symbol:
It designates a product as one of China’s top brands. I couldn’t help but think of a similar symbol, that of Nazi Germany’s Schutzstaffel (SS), a brutal outfit that, among other things, committed genocide during World War II. Here’s a version of their symbol in a pin from 1933:
Now, I don’t think the folks that hand out the Top Brand designation, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, are trying to push a Nazi agenda. Odds are they have no idea of the similarity. But given that the award is supposed to strengthen Chinese brands for promotion at home and abroad, they might want to rethink their imagery. I can only guess what the folks strolling a showroom floor in Europe or North America will think if they see an S.S. slapped on the side of a washing machine.