Adidas Shoots its own Brand in the Foot

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A shoe featuring orange shackles reminiscent of those word by slaves? It’s hard to imagine the design team at Adidas missed the implications of its newest sneaker just announced on Facebook (and just as quickly removed).   But then again maybe not. Being a German-based company with an all-white (male and middle-aged) executive team with an all white (middle-aged) supervisory board, perhaps they overlooked the way many Americans–and not just African Americans–would view the shoe design.  And hey, I’m white and middle aged too. But I know that age diversity, international diversity, as well as ethnic diversity is often an Achilles heel (I know, I know, I couldn’t help myself) of organizations in all shapes and sizes. We live in a multi-national, multi-cultural world. It’s essential to have people in every department–especially public-facing ones like marketing brands–who bring different life experiences to the table.

Brands must always be creative, bringing new products and services to market. Maybe this is just a small mistep (woops, did it again!) for a company in a highly competitive market segment. But perhaps this experience can remind Adidas–and all of us–that our institutions ultimately reflect our people and our values.

0 replies
  1. Transition Marketing
    Transition Marketing says:

    Certainly a Faux Pas. Adidas is German, however they have American divisions and a fairly good track record (no pun intended) for not slipping up. I would be interested to know:
    a. Why did they feel orange shackles would be a success in the first place.
    b. What safeties were bypassed in approving this.

    Proof, I suppose, that no matter your intentions or your budget, mistakes will happen…


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