Was Adidas’ Boston Marathon Hiccup Detrimental to U.S. Market?

This year’s Boston Marathon, which took place on April 17th, 2017, and Adidas Running took on its 29th year as the Official Footwear and Apparel supplier of the Boston Marathon. Adidas sent out a marketing email following the event to all who completed the race with the subject line “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” This is not a good look for the company, especially because Adidas Running is one of the most significant revenue generators for the company in the U.S. market.

A receiver of the email reacting to the poorly worded subject line courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

Let us not forget the tragedy that occurred during the 2013 Boston Marathon. Two bombs were dropped near the finish line of the event, killing three individuals and injuring hundreds of people. The country knows the runners who took part in the marathon, on that day, were the true survivors. #BostonStrong became a community wide message throughout the difficult time.

Weeks prior to the 2016 marathon, the city unveiled the slogan that is still a powerful message to all in the community, courtesy of the Boston Globe.

Needless to say, this hiccup is not a good way for Adidas on their journey to expanding their share in the US. The company immediately had spokeswoman, Maria Culp, respond to the negative publicity by apologizing on behalf of the company and stating, “Clearly, there was no thought given to the insensitive email subject line we sent Tuesday. We deeply apologize for our mistake. The Boston Marathon is one of the most inspirational sporting events in the world.” An apology email was sent out from Adidas to all the recipients of the original email directly following.

Adidas quickly realized their hiccup and issued an immediate apology. Image courtesy of a consumer’s blog post on ME.ME

On Thursday, May 2nd, Adidas’ CEO, Kasper Rorsted, continued to address the issue to CNBC explaining the company was, “deeply sorry about the email”. He further explained in Squawk on the Street, “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.”

Adidas is currently operating on a four year plan that spans from 2016–2020. The CEO recently released their Q1 results and explained that in Q2 they plan to focus heavily on digital marketing. Let’s just say the digital marketing is not off to a great start in the U.S. market. It will be interesting to examine how their digital marketing plans to recover and move forward, and to hear what sort of impact it has on the company’s success in the U.S.

North America and China have showed the largest gains in product sales, growing by thirty percent or more. Rorsted explained that he not only thinks the margin in North America and China can be sustained, but he even believes there is room for improvement and substantial growth. He informed CNBC, “I still think we have a huge opportunity ahead of us in the U.S. We are 3.5 billion in the U.S.; we need to at least get to 5 (billion) by 2020.”

Rorsted explains Adidas’ goals as a company and current financial status

Adidas has reported better than expected earnings in Q1, so it will be interesting to observe the earnings in Q2 after the marathon mishap. It seems that the issue has been settled down on social media, and their quick public apology helped the cause. Adidas was fortunate in this instance that consumers did not create more of a stir over the incident on social media.

One thing is for certain — it will be interesting to observe the reports on digital media once the Q2 report is released. This scenario shows how important it is to have grave attention to detail with corporate social media.