Black History in White…

In my Introduction to Marketing courses we spend a considerable amount of time discussing the new product development process. I give detailed explanation of the steps involved in taking a new product from the concept stage all the way to the production stage and everything in between. Apparently the executive team at Adidas skipped class along with some of my other students that day. Geesh Adidas. The question on my (and everyone else’s) mind is quite simple…How in the freaking world did this all white tennis shoe ever get cleared to be produced for Black History Month? Did Adidas do even the most basic marketing research? Did they bother to ask a single person of color how they felt about the snow white shoe that would celebrate their rich history? When a company misses this badly on an issue of race, it makes you wonder what kind of culture is being cultivated within. Adidas is a reputable company in the eyes of most. They represent athletes of color all over the globe and have weighed in on issues of social justice numerous times in the past. So what in the hell happened? This is far more than a marketing “miss” for the company. It is a tone deaf response to racial inequality in our country and the sneaker heads out there aren’t having it. I applaud Adidas for pulling the shoe from stores…but question them for ever making it in the first place. It just isn’t that hard to be racially sensitive. It isn’t that hard to represent people of color respectfully. It isn’t that stinking hard to ask some black folks for their opinion on something! Adidas…this was lazy and foolish. Colin Kaepernick’s friends at Nike are probably raising a glass of champagne and toasting yet another victory over you. My MK230 students could have seen this backlash coming a mile away. Do better.

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