Adidas under fire for racist tweets after Twitter campaign to launch Arsenal kit hijacked
Adidas say they are "investigating the abuse of a Twitter mechanic" after an online campaign to launch the new Arsenal kit for the 2019/20 season was hijacked by social media users to display racist and offensive phrases.
The global sportswear brand's UK Twitter team launched the '#DareToCreate' campaign on social media this week which gave fans the opportunity to display their social media handles on the new kit, and even allowing fans to purchase a real-life version of the new strip with their online nicknames on it.
my assumption is it's an automated system where you put your name in and get a custom shirt tweeted out, and they hadn't got enough safeguards in place to check for problematic terms— Nicky Woolf (@NickyWoolf) July 2, 2019
A social media marketing catastrophe, as Arsenal & Adidas’s kit launch campaign is hijacked by idiots:‘Within hours, the brand’s account had sent messages and pictures of shirts containing racist and anti-Semitic language’https://t.co/3qeRcaJhub— Mehdi Juma (@MehdiJuma) July 2, 2019
There was just one problem: the campaign was apparently designed without a suitably robust word filtering mechanism, which led to dozens of Arsenal strips displaying offensive terminology winging their way around the social media landscape.
Hours after the campaign's launch, messages invoking racist and anti-semitic phrases, as well as messages referencing Adolf Hitler, Madeline McCann and the Hillsborough disaster became widely distributed on social media.
How do mechanics like this still get the green light in 2019?Anyone with a shred of intelligence could have predicted this; and not having the machine filter out anything nefarious is beyond incompetent Adidas SM team and it's agency should get P45#https://t.co/jMphiOx3HF— Pete Hotchkiss (@petehotchkiss) July 2, 2019
A social media marketing catastrophe is currently unfolding on the @adidasUK account - no I am not RTing - but someone needs to get out of bed and do some damage control— emily bell (@emilybell) July 2, 2019
In a statement released to the Huffington Post, Adidas said that they immediately ceased the promotion once they were made aware of it being abused.
"As part of our partnership launch with Arsenal we have been made aware of the abuse of a Twitter personalisation mechanic created to allow excited fans to get their name on the back of the new jersey," Adidas said.
"Due to a small minority creating offensive versions of this we have immediately turned off the functionality and the Twitter team will be investigating."
Arsenal, meanwhile, released a separate statement in which they condemned the actions of the Twitter users who abused the campaign.
"We totally condemn the use of language of this nature, which has no place in our game or society," the club said.
Adidas' social media blunder comes two years after Walkers Crisps made a similar error in a campaign which afforded fans the opportunity to have their digital picture added to one of brand ambassador Gary Lineker, which instead descending into the ex-England footballer 'posing' with various criminals such as serial killers Dr. Harold Shipman and Fred West.Also on rt.com 'Racist to its sole': Adidas removes all-white cotton sneakers created for Black History Month