Adidas Joins Bud Light and Nike On the Receiving End of Backlash

Adidas  (ADDYY)  is the latest company to face criticism over a foray into gender issues.

In April, both Bud Light  (BUD) – Get Free Report and Nike  (NKE) – Get Free Report faced pushback from people who opposed the companies’ separate collaborations with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney on sponsored social media posts.

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This week, Adidas announced a collection and campaign for Pride Month 2023, occurring in June.

The campaign is called “Let Love Be Your Legacy,” and is a collaboration with South African designer Rich Mnisi.

The campaign drew some criticism over a male-appearing model wearing a one-piece swimsuit.

Riley Gaines, an American swimmer and frequent critic of the inclusion of transgender women in women’s sports, took exception to a photo that was part of the campaign.

“I don’t understand why companies are voluntarily doing this to themselves,” she wrote on Twitter. “They could have at least said the suit is ‘unisex,’ but they didn’t, because it’s about erasing women.”

“Another company off my list,” wrote Twitter user @RazindaB. “I already threw out all of my Nike things. At this rate, I’ll have to sew my own clothes.”

British influencer Oli London weighed in with his opinion as well.

“Nike and Adidas are at war to see which brand can become the most woke,” London tweeted. “Both brands are now using male models to advertise women’s sports bras.”

For its part, Adidas appears unfazed by the criticism. The company says the collection is part of its “ongoing commitment to help make sport equal.”

“With the ambition to drive greater access, equity and safety for sport’s marginalized communities through advocacy and allyship, this year adidas continues its ongoing partnership with non-profit, Athlete Ally, which focuses on ending homophobia and transphobia in sport,” Adidas wrote on its news website

“We as a brand believe in the power of collaboration to create a more equal world of sport. We will continue to work with partners such as Athlete Ally, listen to our LGBTQIA+ athletes and support our communities to create more possibilities — by creating safe and inclusive spaces to express their authentic selves while playing sport,” said Ashley Czarnowksi, Senior Director of Adidas Global Purpose.

Mnisi explained his thoughts on designing the collection that appeared in the weeks before June, the month generally used for Pride celebrations in the U.S., as the New York City Stonewall riots of June 1969 are commemorated

“In creating this collection, I had a strong impulse to speak to my inner-child and express to the world how LGBTQIA+ allyship can create a legacy of love,” he said. “Unifying these themes together through my own visual language and adidas’ iconic performance and lifestyle pieces is a powerful combination — making the collection a symbol for self-acceptance and LGBTQIA+ advocacy.”

“My hope is this range inspires LGBTQIA+ allies to speak up more for the queer people they love and not let them fight for acceptance alone.”

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