Adidas apologies for ‘insensitive’ Boston Marathon email

Many social media users lashed out at the company after receiving a message which congratulated runners because they “survived.”

The power of an email’s subject line cannot be understated—for better or worse.

Adidas was recently on the latter end of that lesson. Following this week’s Boston Marathon, the retail company’s customers found in their email inbox a congratulatory message. It read, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!”

The message, though well intended, brought back memories of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and wounded more than 260.

Backlash on social media was swift and virulent.

Posts such as these popped up shortly after Adidas sent its email:

The backlash prompted Adidas to offer an apology, in which it said there was “no thought” given to its “insensitive subject line”:

It’s a good reminder for marketers to be hyper vigilant with messages surrounding potentially sensitive subject matter and events.

This is the type of mistake that should have been avoided—but how do you sidestep it? It starts with by reminding marketing, social media and PR staff of phrases, topics and themes that should be avoided when crafting campaign messaging.

This is another lesson that in our profession words matter, and these types of messages require—and deserve—an extra step in the review process before they’re sent out.

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