Adidas’ Boston Marathon Congratulatory Email Causes Major Backlash

After the 2017 Boston Marathon, several finishers received a congratulatory email from Adidas, the sponsor of the 121st race (Wu). While this was a kind gesture on Adidas part, wording within the email sparked a major backlash amongst Adidas’ audience. The subject line of the congratulatory email read, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” (USA Today). This statement had a very negative connotation as three people were killed and 260 were injured at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing (Calfas). As pictured below, several Twitter users expressed their feelings about Adidas’ ignorant mistake. The news of this email spread like wildfire over social media and other popular news outlets.

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Adidas reacted quickly by responding the afternoon after the crisis and backlash had occurred. The company immediately posted an apology on social media and released an official statement to multiple news outlets. “We deeply apologize for our mistake. The Boston Marathon is one of the most inspirational sporting events in the world. Every year we’re reminded of the hope and resiliency of the running community at this event,” said Adidas (Calfas). Adidas’ CEO, Kasper Rorsted, also contributed a statement of his own. “That is a consequence of living in a real-time environment. Of course, we hope the thing like this will not happen. It did happen. We apologized and we hope also that the consumer will forgive us for that mistake, which we are thoroughly sorry about,” said Rorsted (Lovelace). Featured below is Adidas’ apology which was released to Twitter users on April 18th at 12:54 p.m. (@adidasUS I Twitter).

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Adidas made a huge mistake, however, it was able to regain respect and business from its consumers quickly after the crisis. This is due to the company’s exceptional crisis management tactics. Adidas reacted to the crisis only three to four hours after the email was sent (Wu). It released a sympathetic apology and statement through social media and other news outlets. Adidas was honest about its mistake. It is important for companies to be vulnerable and open in order to gain the trust of their consumers, especially during a crisis situation. I found that Adidas was heartfelt regarding the insensitive subject line and handled the situation in a timely manner.

I do not think Adidas could have done anything differently in regards to its crisis management. However, it is unfathomable how that subject line was even approved to be sent out. Mistakes like this should be avoided by filtering content through Adidas’ marketing team and PR department. This crisis shows how crucial it is to get a perspective from as many people as possible before content is released. Some audience members may find a concept offensive and others may not. Therefore, it is important to have a diverse group of people working for a company in order to gather as many viewpoints as possible.

Works Cited

“Adidas Apologizes for Email Congratulating Runners on ‘Surviving’ Boston Marathon.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 18 Apr. 2017, www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2017/04/18/adidas-email-surviving-boston-marathon/100605882/.

Adidas. “Pic.twitter.com/CdBKixwSqT.” Twitter, Twitter, 18 Apr. 2017, twitter.com/adidasUS/status/854422872944771073.

Calfas, Jennifer. “Adidas Apologizes for ‘You Survived’ Boston Marathon Email.” Time, Time, 18 Apr. 2017, time.com/4745066/adidas-boston-marathon-email/.

Jr., Berkeley Lovelace. “Adidas CEO: I Hope Customers Forgive Us for Our ‘You Survived the Boston Marathon’ Email.” CNBC, CNBC, 4 May 2017, www.cnbc.com/2017/05/04/adidas-ceo-i-hope-customers-forgive-us-for-our-boston-marathon-email.html.

Korkz. “#Adidas Coming in Hot with the Absolute Worst Email Subject of All Time. Should Be Ashamed. Pic.twitter.com/Z2uma53uZx.” Twitter, Twitter, 18 Apr. 2017, twitter.com/tweetKory/status/854386643373084674?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.boston.com%2Fsports%2Fboston-marathon%2F2017%2F04%2F19%2Fadidas-apologizes-for-insensitive-boston-marathon-marketing-e-mail.

Mel. “Hey Adidas Email Writer — You Had ONE JOB!” Twitter, Twitter, 18 Apr. 2017,twitter.com/Tweetsnwhatnot/status/854381136461664256?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.boston.com%2Fsports%2Fboston-marathon%2F2017%2F04%2F19%2Fadidas-apologizes-for-insensitive-boston-marathon-marketing-e-mail.

Motorcityfightingkitties. “Uhhh @Adidas.. You Messed up Royally Pic.twitter.com/LfuQktUPln.” Twitter, Twitter, 18 Apr. 2017, twitter.com/PassMeAColdBurr/status/854379974513577985?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Ftime.com%2F4745066%2Fadidas-boston-marathon-email%2F.

Wu, May. “Adidas’ Social Media Crisis of 2017.” Future Marketer, 5 Nov. 2017, cherubyue.com/2017/11/04/adidas-social-media-crisis-of-2017/.

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Naples, FL • Public Relations Student at the University of Florida • Hockey Enthusiast

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