Adidas today became one of the first corporate sponsors of the Boston Marathon to address the twin bombings that left three dead and 176 wounded on Monday. Adidas said it's rolling out a limited edition "Boston stands as one" T-shirt that will sell for $26.20. All proceeds will go to The One Fund Boston, a foundation designed to help the victims of the worst attack on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11 terror attack. Former Boston ad-agency executive Jack Connors is involved in the charity.
"The selflessness and compassion demonstrated by the City of Boston, the first responders, the Boston Athletic Association and all marathon volunteers in providing assistance to the injured have stuck with us and inspired us," said Patrik Nilsson, president of Adidas America, in a statement. "We commend Boston -- and of those associated with the city and the marathon -- for their reaction to this very challenging situation. We applaud them for standing together as one on Monday and in the days which have followed."
Adidas was recently roasted on Twitter for selling a shirt with the No. 5 jersey number of injured University of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware and the slogan, "Ri5e to the Occasion." After taking a beating in the court of public opinion, Adidas announced it would stop selling the controversial T-shirt due to an unspecified "logo" issue.
John Hancock, another long time sponsor of the Boston Marathon, made a $1 million donation to The One Fund, according to the Boston Globe. John Hancock declined to comment.
The question of whether corporate sponsors or advertisers should address human tragedies or distance their brands is a tricky one.
The classic example of a brand dealing with tragedy came after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Anheuser-Busch created a moving commercial showing its Budweiser Clydesdales traveling across the heartland to New York City, then bowing their heads in respect toward Ground Zero.