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Adidas press release hoax published by culture jamming activists

Tom Shearsmith
17 January 2023

German sportswear giant Adidas was the target of a spoof press release announcing a new co-CEO and ‘realitywear’ collection.

Adidas was forced deny claims that it had appointed a former Cambodian union leader as its new co-CEO and launched a scrap-inspired collection of garments pre-worn by factory workers.

A spoof press release, written by culture jamming activist duo The Yes Men, was sent to fashion journalists from a fake Adidas email address, announcing a “revolutionary plan” for the sportswear company.

“This announcement is not by Adidas and not correct.” a spokesperson confirmed.

Igor Vamos, Yes Men Co-founder, explained his motive to The Guardian: “They have this history of incredible scandals they have managed to overcome. They are masters of greenwashing. Bjørn Gulden has talked a lot about doing the right thing – perhaps today’s stunt will nudge them into actually doing it.”

The fake announcement claimed that Cambodian former garment worker and trade union leader Vay Ya Nak Phoan was announced as a future Co-CEO alongside Bjørn Gulden, the former Puma CEO who took over Adidas at the start of 2023. The plan also included the replacement of Adidas' motto "Own the Game" with one that proactively addresses injustice in the garment industry: "Own the Reality."

The announcement also claimed that Gulden and Phoan would sign a binding commitment to "fair labour practices, wages and compensation in the supply chain." The agreement would reportedly ensure all workers would receive "the full wages and severance owed to them since the pandemic began."

Another spoof press release was issued later the same day, also claiming to be Adidas and denying all plans from the original release.

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