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Adidas Was Tricked Into Tweeting Out Racist And Anti-Semitic Messages After A Social Media Campaign Totally Backfired

Adidas
Daniel Fung/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; @WalkerBragman/Twitter

**This article contains references to hate speech and slurs

To launch north London football club (soccer for those in the United States) Arsenal’s new uniforms, Adidas decided to create an interactive social media ad campaign. Fans could send their name with the hashtag #DareToCreate and Adidas’ systems would auto-generate an Arsenal jersey mock-up with their name on the back available for purchase.

Their custom jersey would then be tweeted in response to them with the message:

“[name] This is home. Welcome to the squad. Now it’s time to seal the deal…”

What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, the system had filters to remove profanity. But the designers failed to account for the cleverness of those who wish to spread hate speech online.

People gave racist and anti-semitic phrases as their name, tagged with #DareToCreate, prompting the Adidas account to tweet jersey with racist and anti-semitic slogans. Adidas quickly pulled the promotion images with hate speech and stopped the campaign, but not before people saw the messages,

People asked for an explanation.

People stated the promotion provided a lesson for companies planning social media campaigns.

In addition to hate speech…

@AndrewBloch/Twitter

…online trolls included the name of missing Madeleine McCann, a child who disappeared days before her 4th birthday.

Someone also made a reference to the Hillsborough football disaster where 96 fans died.

@AndrewBloch/Twitter

People condemned the actions of the online trolls, whether they were intended as jokes or were done by members of hate groups.

Although there were a few who thought the trolling was clever or funny.

But they were a definite minority.

@ToBeWorked/Twitter

An Adidas spokesperson stated:

“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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The book The First: How to Think About Hate Speech, Campus Speech, Religious Speech, Fake News, Post-Truth, and Donald Trump, available here, examines the First Amendment in an age of lies and hate.

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Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'keh:ka and Metis Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. She considers herself another proud Maineiac. Her picture is from 1984 for purely Orwellian reasons.