Adidas has launched an investigation after its new Twitter campaign, which allowed Arsenal FC fans to have their handle appear on the back of the football club’s new shirt, was flooded by users who decided to seize the opportunity and create offensive jerseys.
The campaign, dubbed #DareToCreate, did not weed out abusive words and phrases, and within hours, the brand’s UK Twitter account had sent out apparently automated messages and pictures of virtual Arsenal shirts with racist or anti-Semitic language, including “@GasAllJewss”.
“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 said in a statement to HuffPost UK.
Arsenal Football Club has as well issued a statement to “totally condemn the use of language of this nature, which has no place in our game or society”.
my assumption is it's an automated system where you put your name in and get a custom shirt tweeted out, and they hadn't got enough safeguards in place to check for problematic terms— Nicky Woolf (@NickyWoolf) 2 июля 2019 г.
Things like this have happened before. I'm sure it's just an automated "fill in your own jersey" thing and they forgot to filter out the eventual trolls. Same thing happened with the Patriots a few years back, iirc.— Yesh Ginsburg (@yesh222) 2 июля 2019 г.
Someone thought it was a good idea to automate their twitter promotion.— biff hooper (@biff_hooper) 2 июля 2019 г.
While Adidas is dealing with the repercussions of its unfortunate idea, this is not the first time that such a social media campaign has gone rogue.
In November 2014, the New England Patriots, a professional American football team, kick-started a similar automated tweets campaign to celebrate passing the million follower landmark on the micro-blogging platform.
The Patriots invited users to retweet a celebratory message, “Thanks for helping us become the first NFL team with 1 million followers! #1MillionPatriots”, in order to generate a post showing a team jersey depicting a user’s handle – and one account had a racial slur in its name.