Adidas U.K. tweets racist, offensive messages after social media promotion goes wrong

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Adidas’ U.K. Twitter account had a serious misstep this week.

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The sportswear company was promoting its new partnership with the soccer club Arsenal when it told users to tweet #DareToCreate in order to get an automated response from the Adidas U.K. account with a picture of what a jersey would look like with their Twitter handle on it.

However, the promotion turned to mishap when people with usernames that referenced the Holocaust, the disappearance of the British girl Madeline McCann in 2007 and the Hillsborough disaster, when 96 people died in a stadium in 1989.


Handles included “@InnocentHitler,” “@Madeline McCann” and “@96WasNotEnough,” according to screengrabs of the responses from Adidas U.K.

“GasAllJewss This is home. Welcome to the squad,” one automated response from Adidas U.K. said, according to a screengrab of the post.

"We totally condemn the use of language of this nature, which has no place in our game or society," an Arsenal spokesperson told FOX Business.

"We work hard as a club to encourage diversity and inclusion through our Arsenal for Everyone programme, launched in 2008 as a celebration of the diversity of the Arsenal family," the spokesperson added. "Through a number of initiatives undertaken in the community, inside Emirates Stadium and throughout the club, Arsenal strives to ensure that everyone associated with the club feels an equal sense of belonging."

An Adidas spokesperson told CNBC that the retailer turned off the function in order to prevent further offensive responses.

“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,” the spokesperson reportedly said. “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 tweets have since been deleted from the account and Adidas did not responded immediately to FOX Business’ request for comment on Tuesday afternoon.


This isn’t the first time a social media promotion using automated responses has gone wrong. In 2014, the New England Patriots had a similar campaign that received responses from people with racist Twitter handles -- leading the football team’s account to post racist tweets, The Guardian reported at the time.

The team issued a public apology after the incident, the outlet reported.