When Adidas unveiled its plans for a new sneaker featuring shackles claiming they were “a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles,” many in the African American community stopped and read the announcement in shock. Then there were the questions: what was Adidas thinking? And who would actually buy a pair of $350 sneakers with snap-on shackles that were so reminiscent of those placed on slaves or inmates? Black leaders and activists were outraged, and shortly after its announcement, Adidas abandoned the shoe design and apologized. But still the questions remain: what was Adidas thinking? And how did the idea even go so far as to reach the public?
As a Washington Post article points out, Adidas, and any company that hopes to be social responsible, should ask themselves a few questions before marketing a product that could potentially outrage your consumers. To avoid these socially awkward mistakes when considering a new product or service, take the time to ask these questions:
Does the new project reflect the core values your company wants to project? For Adidas, a shackle doesn’t reflect any specific mission in its goal to sale shoes. When the company realized that it had created public outrage, it quickly withdrew its plan and apologized.
Do you fully appreciate the needs, sensitivities and background of your target audiences? In the Adidas case, the African American community has strongly supported and bought Adidas apparel throughout the years, and the creation of a shackled shoe was not the most sensitive of shoe design concepts.
What impact are you having on particular groups or society at large? Short-term profit alone will not lead to a successful business. To create long-term success, business professionals must be aware of the social implications of their actions. Otherwise it will impact their reputation among consumers.
Lastly, are you creating good will or destroying it? Good will consists of customer satisfaction, marketing, community relations and advertising. Building it can take several years, but destroying it can take place with one quick mistake.
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