The news about today’s PR shocker from mega sportswear brand Adidas confirms that even the biggest brands sometimes make mind numbing PR mistakes.

It seems the marketing team at Adidas emailed all the participants in this year’s Boston Marathon congratulating them on ‘surviving’ the event.

Just four years ago in 2013, three people lost their lives at the same event and 260 suffered injuries – many of them life changing – when two bombs exploded close to the finishing line.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that Adidas’s ill judged email will cause offence to many, not least the relatives of those killed and injured at the event in 2013.

As the official sponsor at the marathon Adidas must have fully realised the tragic recent history around the race. I cannot for one moment believe they intended the email to be a reference to the events of 2013 so it must surely have been a genuine mistake.

Communications professionals need to be mindful of the impact their words can have at all times and it beggars belief that the marketing team signed off this particular communication.


Adidas have issued an unreserved apology for the email and it’s subject line, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!”

But the brand will have to look hard at procedures which allowed this email to go out unchecked and unchallenged. It’s difficult to imagine two communications professionals could have read this email without realising how insensitive it was so I can only assume it was sent out without being checked.

They have done the right thing to quickly and unreservedly apologise but many will remain incredulous that the email was sent out to runners.

You can read more about this story here.

Coming just weeks after Pepsi scored a huge PR gaffe with the Kendall Jenner protest commercial it’s another reminder that even the biggest brands sometimes get their communications staggeringly wrong.

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