Adidas Trolled For Tweeting Racist Content After Promo Goes Wrong

This is not the first time a brand’s promotion was hijacked. When will brands learn?

Social Buzz
2 min read

Adidas has landed itself in a soup after its social media campaign to promote their new Arsenal product went horribly wrong, and ticked off a lot of people.

To promote their partnership with Arsenal on a new jersey line, Adidas was giving away photos of customised Arsenal jerseys to Twitter users who tagged their UK handle. The jersey pics the users got back would have their Twitter handles printed on it.

And then, this happened.


Yes, a group of users with obvious malicious intent took over the campaign by changing their handles to racist and abusive phrases, which later ended up as downloadable Arsenal jersey photos.

Some of these disturbing handles were @GasAllJewss, @MadelineMcCann, and @96wasnotenough.

Adidas’s official UK handle was tweeting them out, and of course, it didn't go down well with people.

People also pointed how promotions like these have been similarly misused is the past, and still there was no course correction from the big brands.

While the tweets have been deleted now, after other users called it out, Adidas in under fire for having neglected proper screening and simply letting it happen in the first place.

Twitter has also suspended some of these notorious handles. The biggest irony lay in the fact that Adidas’ automated response carried the phrase, #DareToCreate.

Adidas Deletes Tweets, Gives Statement

Subsequently, Adidas gave a statement on the matter, promising an enquiry into it,

“As part of our partnership launch with Arsenal, we have been made aware of the abuse of a Twitter personalisation 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 and the Twitter team will be investigating.”
Adidas spokesperson

Giving users a shout out or a personalised message is a classic digital promotion move to get them to interact with a brand or promotion. If it’s done on witter, it’s even better. As long as users tag a specific handle or use a keyword, they get a response back.


This is a quite straightforward way to generate mentions - the currency to measure engagement in the word of Twitter. And the users practically ask for a promotional flyer - in this case, a photo of personalised jersey - which they are further encouraged to share.

But since it is practically impossible to physically respond to each user that tags a brand or a promotional handle, much of this personalised responses are automated. It picks up the keyword, scans for whatever is unique to the user, in most cases handles, generates a message, and simply responds. Often, it is designed to simply respond to any user mentioning the handle.

While its quick and effective, this system can also easily be abused; the user-generated aspect of it leaves it to be hijacked for the wrong reasons. As such, a screening system or a filter must be placed if a brand is conscientious of the message it’s sending out.

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