A major event such as the Boston Marathon attracts many famous sponsors. When tragedy strikes, sponsors must consider their responses carefully and respectfully. In the wake of the monstrous and unimaginable tragedy of the 2013 bombing of the Marathon, adidas has sought to adopt an appropriate stance that both honors the victims and benefits the city.
All proceeds from the sale of its “Boston stands as one” t-shirt, introduced less than a week after the bombing, will go to a charitable foundation. The One Fund Boston is dedicated to helping victims. Another Boston Marathon sponsor, John Hancock, directly donated $1 million to The One Fund Boston.
These moves appear generally appropriate and helpful, not just for the company but also for those affected. The sponsors may be moved to act, considering their close relationship with the event and its participants.
In other cases though, corporate recognition of tragedy has been less appropriate. Adidas seemingly learned a quick lesson, when it suffered negative publicity for another shirt it introduced just a month before the marathon. Its “Ri5e to the Occasion” shirt sought to commemorate the efforts of Kevin Ware, the University of Louisville basketball player who suffered a terrible injury during the 2013 NCAA tournament. Without any evident connection or assistance being provided, observers accused adidas of exploiting a young man’s injury for its own benefit.
Source: Michael McCarthy, “Adidas Brings Out ‘Boston Stands as One’ Shirt,” Advertising Age, April 19, 2013
Transition Marketing said:
I commend you on a quick, clear and focused post that cuts clearly to one straight point. That brands / businesses must exercise caution and careful deliberation before acting.
It is sad but true that many times over, the public has witnessed corporations jumping on good will band wagons without proper research. In some cases they have pledged donations to causes without fully understanding where the money is going. In others, they spread word, or communicated in poor fashion causing public outcry and brand damage.
Just look at the backlash from from Kenneth Cole’s mismanagement of the trending #Cairo hashtag last year. (Although some argue he did it intentionally).
Corporate sponsorship is a beautiful thing, so long as it is genuine. Public perception, as a general rule, should always be expected to be pessimistic and proper steps should be taken to prove the brands authenticity.