adidas’s #runfortheworld

just do it!

06 nov 2019, dimitri barbe

This weekend, I stopped by the Adidas flagship store on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. A huge sports experience centre, including sports stands, running tracks, edgy beats and trendy sportswear and accessories. But Adidas recently also discovered the plastic soup. They probably noticed their young buyers’ concerns – the concerns of those who participate in the climate marches in somewhat stereotypical green Stan Smith sneakers. And so, this topic has now been introduced to their experience store.

Just like Wikipedia, they now display facts about plastic pollution in our oceans: its scope, the weight in Eiffel Towers of plastic waste floating around in our oceans, the number of seabirds that die each year as a result, where all that plastic comes from and how you can help to reduce that as a consumer. To round off this educational project, they also provide water fountains. As each bottle you refill saves one small plastic bottle. Cool, black Adidas reusable bottles are strategically placed next to these fountains.

Finally, they also display a modest rack showing “the shoe of the future” and a few garments made of recycled plastic, together with some useless plastic bottles and the caption ‘From threat into thread’. A shoe which, by the way, I saw a couple of years ago at several sustainability conferences, announced by Adidas – together with its launch date – as a spectacular piece made of recycled materials. On the spacious sports fields and the well-stocked floors of the shopping nirvana, however, it’s business as usual.

We cannot blame Adidas for greenwashing, because the company hardly claims anything at all. As a result, they do not convey a false message; but for such a global brand, for such a giant, the ambition is sorely lacking.

Adidas, this summer you will be celebrating your 70th anniversary. Such a large brand with such impact... I read the same thoughts in the introduction to your sustainability report: ‘As a global sports company, we believe that through sport we have the power to change lives.’ If you really think so, why don’t you raise the bar for yourselves and the rest of the world? You have everything it takes to create a new story for your brand, a story that will create a positive impact for the next 70 years. Instead of merely reciting the plastic pollution facts, you could try and transform into a brand that actually does something about it. This is what makes you relevant.

A brand that revolves around sports, exercise, health, ambition and drive, and one that contributes to a life-sized planet, supported by a worldwide army of young climate activists... There’s no doubt: #RunForTheWorld. What are you waiting for? Just do it.