Pedestrians walk past a large Adidas logo inside the German multinational sportswear company.
Miguel Candela | SOPA Images | Light Rocket via Getty Images
Several press releases were allegedly sent by Adidas about a Berlin Fashion Week launch, its treatment of overseas workers and other topics related to its business structure were wrong, according to the company.
“We are not commenting on these fake emails/press releases,” Claudia Lange, the retailer’s vice president of external communications, said in an email to CNBC.
A fake statement said Vay Ya Nak Phoan, described as a former Cambodian factory worker and union leader, had been appointed co-CEO to ensure ethical compliance in manufacturing.
The Yes Men, an activist group that has a history of creating parodies to draw attention to how corporations respond to social issues, confirmed to CNBC that it was behind the posts with d other groups. The groups hope Adidas will sign the Pay Your Workers labor agreement, which upholds garment workers’ pay and the right to organize.
“Following several scandals, it seems like it would be a good thing for them to move on,” said a member of The Yes Men identified as Mike Bonanno.
Two of the bogus press releases claimed that Adidas was launching new apparel called REALITYWEAR by celebrities Pharrell Williams, Bad Bunny and Philllllthy. The hoax statement announcing the debut of Berlin Fashion Week on January 16 claimed it was part of a push for renewed interest in workers’ rights and materials sourcing.
Adidas sets out its position on workers’ rights on a dedicated “Workplace Standards” page, setting out its code of conduct for health, safety, pay and “responsible sourcing”.
The Guardian first reported that the Yes Men were behind the campaign.
Yes Men’s tiered campaign also referenced the now-ended partnership with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West who has come under fire in recent months for anti-Semitic statements, and included a “response” from the company, providing fabricated responses to points raised in early drafts.
– CNBC’s Gabrielle Fonrouge contributed reporting
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