WWTT? Adidas Social Media Campaign Generates Offensive Tweets

On July 1, as part of its #DaretoCreate campaign, Adidas UK promoted the new home kit for Premier League team Arsenal on Twitter. But sadly it didn’t go as planned, thanks to racist, anti-Semitic, and classless Internet trolls.

On July 1, as part of its #DaretoCreate social media campaign, Adidas UK promoted the new home kit for Premier League team Arsenal on Twitter. But sadly it didn’t go as planned, thanks to racist, anti-Semitic, and classless Internet trolls. The basis of of the social media campaign to hype up the new kit was simple: When Twitter users liked a tweet (now-deleted) from @adidasUK, the account would share an AI-automated tweet with the message “This is home. Welcome to the squad.” along with an image of the new Arsenal jersey and a link where they could purchase it. On the jersey, where players’ names are displayed, would be the individual’s Twitter handle.

And this is where it falls apart. Some handles were racist, anti-Semitic, referenced the 96 Liverpool Football Club fans that were crushed to death at a match in 1989, and more.

https://twitter.com/ZachAJacobson/status/1145883221994831872

The Adidas UK Twitter account deleted the original and all offensive tweets, and Twitter has tracked down the accounts and suspended them. But the harm is still done.

In regard to the snafu, Adidas made the following statement:

“As part of our partnership launch with Arsenal, we have been made aware of the abuse of a Twitter personalization functionality created to allow excited fans to get their name on the back of the new jersey. Due to a small minority creating offensive versions of this, we have immediately turned off the functionality and the Twitter team will be investigating. We are in contact with Twitter, the innovation provider, to establish the cause and ensure they continue to monitor and action violating content as a matter of urgency.”

A Twitter spokesperson also commented on issue:

“We regret that this functionality has been abused in this way and are taking steps to ensure we protect the health of the interactions with this account. We have already taken action on a number of accounts for violating our policies and will continue to take strong enforcement action against any content that breaks our rules.”

And aside from the wildly offensive nature of these tweets, it’s an utter shame that the excitement of a new home kit has been tarnished a bit for Arsenal, who also shared that they do not condone any of the messages that were shared.

In a tweet from PR expert Andrew Bloch, which has since been deleted (that seems odd), Bloch writes:

Adidas’ #DareToCreate campaign provides yet another valuable reminder to brands on why you should never let the internet customise anything.’

And he’s not wrong. The New England Patriots learned that the hard way back in 2014 when their Twitter account automatically retweeted images of custom digital Pats’ jerseys, featuring Twitter handles that in some cases were extremely racist and offensive. And according to Fortune, there have been other mishaps made by Coca-Cola, Nutella, and Walker Crisps.

So yes, perhaps Andrew Bloch nailed it on the head, or perhaps if brands are going to host this kind of social media campaign, automation has to be turned off and a lot of common sense and human review has to be turned on. True, you lose the quick turnaround and have to invest more time and resources … but then you also might avoid such embarrassment.

I’ll be curious to see if this social media snafu damages the relationship between Adidas and Arsenal … but in the meantime, marketers tell me what you think in the comments below!

Scrappy Soccer Girls Teach a Critical Loyalty Lesson

More than anything, we marketers must learn the power of creating a team with our customers, and executing on every level — sales, service and customer support.

Jeanette blog, team pic: COPA Girls #1 2016 hugThe girls on the sideline were pacing, biting their nails and glancing at the competition warming up on the field. It had been their dream soccer season, and now it was all on the line. A handful of scrappy girls with little experience had formed a team in a local community league and had surprised all who knew them, even themselves. They were playing championship finals for two different age groups on this hot Colorado day.

With barely enough girls to field a team, they had invited three girls from the local travel soccer club to join their roster. Most spectators expected those three club girls, all starters on the top team in their community, to run circles around their less experienced teammates and dominate all of the games. But instead, they did just the opposite. They didn’t constantly hog the ball to see how many goals they could rack up, only pass to each other, or get frustrated when a teammate lost the ball or missed her mark. Instead, they cheered for their teammates, passed to the open player no matter who it was and encouraged the other girls with little focus in life to shoot, take risks and see what they could do. They celebrated every effort.

Off of the field, they chatted together about their goals, dreams and challenges. They became friends. On the field, they beat every team, except last year’s champions who had recruited three of the best players from another club team to help them win again. Now they would face them twice in one day for the two championships. They were nervous and intimidated as the reigning champions lined up. These girls wanted the title for themselves and their coach, a young minority mother who was struggling like their own parents did.

In Game 1, they started off timid, falling behind 0–1. Just after half time, they scored. Confidence came back and they played like never before. They ran, rushed, headed, blocked, stayed on their marks, talked and passed to each other, cheered each other on and won, holding the other team to only penalty points.

Game 2 was an hour later. Hot and tired but fired up from their surprise victory, they took the field, trusting and believing in each other. They were up 2–0, again holding off some of the community’s top scorers who didn’t get the power of “team.” Those other recruited girls refused to pass to their less experienced teammates, blamed them when they themselves lost the ball or got a shot blocked. When they couldn’t score, they suddenly kept falling down by the goal, “injured,” getting free kicks just to recover miraculously after the easy goals, which enabled them to tie up the game and take it to penalty kicks.

The pressure was intense. Winning this second game was just as important to this team who were also fighting for their coach’s chance to shine and get her dream job with the local club. The goalie took her spot, feeling the heat and the heart for her team. She bounced up and down with the shrewd focus of a pro. And she did it. She blocked penalty kicks with a single fist, lunging, stretching and reaching heights she never knew she could in order to give her team that second victory.

Stunned, these girls kept asking themselves if they were dreaming. They weren’t. They just learned and taught all of those who watched them some of life’s greatest lessons that apply to both our personal and business achievements. They learned what happens when groups come together — sports teams or customers and brands — and get behind common goals, treat each other with dignity and patience, celebrate each effort and, most importantly, become trusted friends.