Due to internet permanence and instantaneous feedback, it’s important for anyone online to think about what they’re posting before it’s broadcasted on the newsfeeds of thousands of people. Once content is posted online for internet communities to see, it’s almost impossible to backtrack and pretend that the content never existed as it’s screenshot and shared across the internet. Adidas failed to consider this when sending out a newsletter to its Adidas Running subscribers on Tuesday, April 18 with an email subject line that read: “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!”
While the intention was to encourage subscribers to purchase Adidas gear and apparel, it received some backlash online because of the Boston Marathon terror attack that occurred on April 15, 2013, where a double bombing 12 seconds apart near the finish line killed three people and injured 264.
The German brand quickly apologized and posted a statement on Twitter, which has helped mitigate a lot of the backlash that the company has received. Responses since the apology was issued have been relatively positive, forgiving Adidas’s subject line with many runners stating that ‘surviving’ is a running term commonly used in describing finishing a marathon or race.
Adidas’s PR mistake is a great example of how commiseration can be effectively utilized on proper social media channels to mitigate damage to a company’s reputation. For online users and PR practitioners who want to effectively utilize social media, the mistake also serves as a great lesson to think before posting. Adidas was fortunate in that it received relatively low amounts of backlash considering to the events of the Boston Bombing. For a more detailed look into how to handle a PR crisis, check out my previous post regarding how the multinational oil and gas company BP should have handled its crisis situation.