Adidas may have just announced higher forecasts for sales of football products this year, but it has not been good news all round for the sportswear company over the past few days.
Firstly, the company has been hit with a lawsuit from a New Yorker who claims he was misled over the fitness effects of one of their pairs of shoes. And secondly – in an arguably more damaging fiasco – the company has had to cancel a new product line after receiving a huge public backlash over its look.
The JS Roundhouse Mid range, created by leading fashion designer Jeremy Scott, was launched on Facebook amid a flurry of publicity, and immediately drew criticism from people who compared the bright-orange cuffs attached to the trainers to the shackles worn by slaves. It is not difficult to see why some critics made that comparison – and unsurprisingly, trainer aficionados vented their feelings on social networks, saying they found the footwear offensive.
Adidas responded with: “The trainer is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery … Since the shoe debuted on our Facebook page ahead of its market release in August, Adidas has received both favourable and critical feedback … We apologise if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”
It didn’t take very long for the company to make the decision to withdraw the trainers – and by apologising they’ve at least made some effort to put an end to the matter. But this does make you wonder about their research and development team, which couldn’t have tried very hard to gauge how members of the public would feel towards the chosen stylistic features.
All in all, I think it’ll be back to the drawing board for Adidas and Scott on this effort.
Will Edwards is managing director of media training consultancy Bluewood Training