Adidas’ plan to get fans of London football club Arsenal excited for its new jerseys on Twitter went horribly wrong yesterday, and it has sparked backlash on social media today.
It started with a AI-powered marketing program on the company’s @adidasuk account (which has 832,000 followers). There, users were given the opportunity to have their Twitter handles and other messages placed on the back of jerseys in a photo, if they used the hashtag #DareToCreate. Adidas U.K. then replied with the image and the caption “This is home. Welcome to the squad,” accompanied by a link to buy the product.
However, Adidas’ Arsenal campaign was soon hijacked by users with anti-Semitic Twitter accounts, such as “@GasAllJewss,” “@MadelineMcCann” (referring to the missing-person case from 2007) and “@96wasnotenough” (a nod to the Hillsborough Stadium disaster in 1989 where 96 soccer fans were killed). The users followed the brand’s instructions and their handles were placed in the image on the back of the jerseys. The messages have since been removed.
Despite scrubbing efforts, the posts have been circulating on the social media platform and other users have voiced their displeasure with Adidas and the fact that it would allow this to happen, however inadvertently.
And @hevans111 said, “Who runs these accounts? Maybe employ someone with half a brain.”
Replying to FN’s request for comment, Adidas said via email: “As part of our partnership launch with Arsenal we have been made aware of the abuse of a Twitter personalization mechanic 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. 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.”
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