Germany’s Adidas and Puma join Facebook ad boycott over hate speech

German sportswear makers Adidas and Puma said Tuesday they would join a growing advertiser boycott over hate speech against Facebook and Instagram in July, following major consumer companies like Levi's and Coca-Cola.

Germany's Adidas and Puma join Facebook ad boycott over hate speech
Puma's headquarter Herzogenaurach. Photo: DPA

“Puma will join the #StopHateForProfit campaign…throughout July,” a spokeswoman told AFP, citing a social media hashtag organised by social justice activists taken up by some of the companies.

The leaping-cat brand “is part of an overall effort to create positive change and improvement in Facebook's platform by demanding the removal of inaccurate, hostile and harmful conversation,” she added.

While he did not reference the hashtag, a spokesman for Puma's hometown rival Adidas said the company would “develop criteria to develop and maintain a cosmopolitan and safe environment that will apply to ourselves and our partners” during a Facebook ad pause also encompassing US subsidiary Reebok.

“Racism, discrimination and hateful comments should have no place either in our company or in our society,” he added.

Facebook shares clawed back Monday some of the $50 billion in market value they had shed as the advertiser boycott picked up pace last week.

Around 200 companies including giants like Starbucks and Unilever have followed the appeal of civil rights groups like the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League to stage the July boycott.

The movement against online hate speech has picked up steam following George Floyd's May 25th death at the hands of a white policeman in Minneapolis.

READ ALSO: Tens of thousands rally across Germany against racism and police brutality

On Friday, Facebook had said it would ban a “wider category of hateful content” in ads and add tags to posts that are “newsworthy” but violate platform rules — following the lead of Twitter, which has used such labels on tweets from US President Donald Trump.

But experts have highlighted the social network's massive advertiser base of small- and medium-sized companies chasing over 2.6 billion worldwide users, potentially limiting the impact of big-name boycotts.

Adidas has itself been in the sights of the global anti-discrimination movement.

Earlier this month, the three-stripe brand rejected claims by employees that it was not doing enough to combat racism, after its human resources chief last year described such complaints as “noise” only discussed in the US.

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Shoe-Bahn: Berliners queue for sneaker with sewn-in annual transit ticket

Hundreds of people braved sub-zero temperatures to camp out overnight in Berlin, in hopes of buying on Tuesday a pair of Adidas sneakers that also offers free subway travel.

Shoe-Bahn: Berliners queue for sneaker with sewn-in annual transit ticket
Shoe hopefuls camping out in Berlin on Monday. Photo: DPA

With only 500 pairs of the limited edition Adidas sneaker on offer, snow and chilly weather didn’t stop fans from queuing in front of the stores in the Mitte and Kreuzberg districts early in the morning on Tuesday.

At around 1:00am about 550 people were counted – some of whom had been queuing since Saturday – and jotted down on the waiting list. At 6am another count was carried out and those who had left were removed from the list.

A shot of the exclusive pair of shoes from the shop window. Photo: DPA

Peggy from Berlin’s Hellersdorf district said she had been there since Monday morning. Together with Oliver from Friedrichshain, she secured a place in a bus shelter – wrapped in thick blankets and with deck chairs. Other people had put up tents and camping tables on the sidewalk.

“I came from Leipzig on Saturday and am 73rd in the queue,” said Andreas Leu, who was wrapped up in a big red sleeping bag.

“What's most interesting is the ticket and there are only 500 pairs. I'm keeping it for my collection,” he added.

Julian Kienst, who was standing next to Leu, said: “It helps me save quite a lot of money that I can use for other things, particularly since I don't make that much.”

“The shoes are cool, but I want the BVG ticket first and foremost,” 18-year-old Sara told Tagesspiegel.

Berlin's public transport operator BVG had produced the shoes in partnership with German sportswear giant Adidas for the train network's 90th birthday.

Celebrating the sneakers' popularity in its typical ironic fashion on Twitter, the BVG tweeted: “Letting people wait – it's one of our superpowers.”

The sneaker bearing the design of seat covers on Berlin's U-Bahn trains that has an annual ticket sewn into its flap was priced at only €180. An annual BVG ticket costs upwards of €761. On Ebay, it was offered for €600 before the official start of sales on Tuesday.

The BVG's marketing stunt however came under fire, with Die Welt daily calling the hype over the sneakers “absurd.”

The conservative newspaper noted that few pairs of the shoes would likely end up on commuters' feet as they will be more valuable if kept in mint condition as collectors' items.

Barely minutes after the sneakers went on sale at 10 am (0900 GMT), some were being offered online at up to €1,150 – around six times their original price.

The sneakers are valid until the end of 2018 as a ticket on Berlin U-bahn (subways), trams, buses and ferries – but only if they are worn at the time of travel.