The wrong word and quickly you’re the next social media topic

By: Scott Stein, VP of Client Services, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

This past Monday was Patriots’ Day. Typically, not a big holiday for most of us, unless you happen to be in Massachusetts or you’re fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Many of the more than 26,000 runners who finished the race this year received an email from race sponsor Adidas on Tuesday. Its goal was to celebrate the runners, recognize their accomplishment and maybe sell some additional sports apparel. But the email went out with the subject line…“Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!”
Given what happened four years ago when bombs went off at the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260, the email quickly became the subject of criticism on social media. Some of the responses on Twitter…


  • “I don’t know how an advertising team doesn’t catch this.”
  • “Seems a little inappropriate.”
  •  “Are your copyrighters living in a black hole?”
  •  “Did you hire the @united pr team?”
  •  “Adidas – are you tone deaf?”


Adidas, a long-time sponsor of the Boston Marathon, responded quickly…
“We are incredibly sorry. Clearly, there was no thought given to the insensitive email subject line we sent Tuesday. We deeply apologize for our mistake.”
The Boston Marathon is one of the most inspirational sporting events in the world. Every year we’re reminded of the hope and resiliency of the running community at this event.”
The Adidas’ Twitter account also has many tweets of support, including those who say many people are too easily offended these days.
Still, given what happened in Boston on Patriots’ Day in 2013, one has to wonder how a subject line like that made it through the review process and into people’s inboxes. It’s a great reminder to those of us who send things out via email, social media, snail mail or any other form of communication, have a second or third set of eyes take a look at it. They may catch something that you just didn’t consider.