Anyone up for Crisis Communications 101? Let's take a not-so-assuaged apology from ADIDAS, "Any suggestion that this is linked to slavery is untruthful." Now class, in crisis communications, this is what we call "A No-Win Situation." There will be a test.
The "this" in question are the pictured retro-chic shoes from the new indentured servant collection: the JS Roundhouse Mids by white-guy designer, Jeremy Scott.
To market the shoe, Adidas provided some tomfoolery in the form of spin control messaging: "This is a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles." Yeah, that's so hip, yo. Word to your mother. And any other peckerwood comment you can imagine to thwart the attention of Jesse Jackson. Oh...too late.
Now before you say it, let's not chime in with the tired and inane commentary of "Just get over the whole slavery thing." A 240-year blood stain on the chronology of America is not a retro-chic idea for shoes, nor is it something that you can use to brush your shoulders off, but thanks for playing. And if you don't believe me...yeah, you guessed it:
"I am stunned at the insensitivity," Jackson said. "It was a gross insult. We were prepared to engage in a boycott in 50 markets. We contacted Adidas yesterday and contacted [NBA Commish] David Stern, who, in turn, within a few minutes called Adidas and had it cancelled. They cancelled it because they got a call from David Stern and the threat of a real boycott," Jackson proudly declared.
Adidas had a masterful epiphany and decided that one day of the sight of pillagers outside their corporate headquarters lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks was enough. According to CNN, the shoe line has been cancelled. The question is: Was this one-day ballyhoo enough for Adidas to recoup any black eye this caused its brand? I admit, I have three pair of Adidas (or Adidi?) in my closet and this story forces me to think twice about placing these on my feet. I'm sure I won't be alone.
"I don't think that you can ask women to move past issues of women's rights given the gross violations of women," Jackson replied. "Or ask people who are gay or native American or Jewish. We must, in this multicultural environment, be sensitive and caring. This is insulting, insensitive, provocative and wrong."
What's next, Adidas? Apologizing to the black community and offering your shoes for three-fifths of its usual price for the next week? Let's stick the marketing to the pros...or at least, the interns in your ad department.