In 2017, Adidas posted a poorly written email congratulating its consumers for “surviving” the Boston Marathon for those who finished the race. Once people received the email, it started to spread like wildfire on Twitter because it was seen as extremely insensitive to those who were affected by the bombings at the marathon 4 years prior in 2013.
How was it resolved:
Adidas took action after realizing a big mistake they made and apologized. Adidas spokesperson said, “We are incredibly sorry. Clearly, there was no thought given to the incentive 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. Every year we’re reminded of the hope and resiliency of the running community at this event.” Adidas was swift to respond and this prevented matters from escalating quickly. Adidas also had a smart idea of partnering with a digital agency to provide personal highlight films for every single runner since Adidas has been partnering with the Boston Marathon for thirty years. Cameras were set up in certain parts of the course and upon completion, runners received an email with access to all the camera footage.
How would you have handled it?:
I think the best way to handle tough situations like this is to own up to the mistake(s) made, apologize, and tell consumers how you will do better as a company. Then, as a company, you have to show consumers that you have learned from the mistake. If you do not show it, the consumers won’t take you seriously and you will lose a lot of trust and support. In the statement Adidas said all of the correct things; they acknowledged their mistake, apologized, and they learned from their mistake since they have not made headlines about any other bad subject lines.
What do you suggest the company do now?
I would suggest that the company finds a creative new campaign to move on from their mistakes. This is exactly what Adidas did, they partnered with a digital agency to provide runners with footage from the marathon. I would also suggest that in general, Adidas be more mindful when making decisions regarding such a large email campaign. There should be focus groups and multiple levels of management that approve messaging and details. The company should also make sure to avoid similar incidents in the future by prioritizing events like this that can hold such an impact on people. Moving forward they should make sure that the marathon gets priority and extra review before sending anything out to avoid similar situations in the future.