One of my favorite companies over the past five years has become Adidas. Just like Nike, Adidas is a very large corporation that sells sports shoes, clothing and other related accessories. Adidas has become meaningful to me because in high school I would wear Adidas shoes when playing varsity basketball. Everyone else on the team wore Nike’s and it became a thing for everyone to make fun of my shoes. I would like to point out that I had no explanation for wearing Adidas over Nike, it just so happened to be what my mom bought me. All the talk about my shoes made them meaningful to me and my relationship with Adidas only grew as I came to college. In case you did not know, Adidas sponsors Bucknell. So, when I came to school I would always see the athletic teams wearing Adidas rather than Nike and it made me think of all the times in high school when we would talk about my shoes.

First and foremost, I thought Adidas was such a great company because of their products. I never had a problem wearing anything Adidas produced and viewed it as just as good as a company as Nike. Continuing, a lot of famous athletes are sponsored by Adidas (most notably Derrick Rose in my opinion) and this made a good impression on me. Also, I did not view them as a Nike. I knew about Nike’s scandals regarding labor conditions, but Adidas was never mentioned as a company who did things of this nature. However, after doing some research I found that Adidas is just like Nike and other companies in more ways than I am happy about. Adidas has been accused of the same labor issues as Nike and they have not done much about it. They outsource their products to Indonesia as well where the laborers are paid very low wages, work in horrible conditions and as a result cannot provide for themselves or their families. Adidas has also faced harsh criticism for their refusal to allow workers to unionize; “At one factory in Indonesia supplying Adidas 10 workers were suspended earlier this year and face losing their jobs—believed to be as a result of their union activism.” Adidas has faced much criticism about how they treat the workers in their factories and it is simply not right.

Another thing I uncovered about Adidas is a product they planned to launch in 2012. They created a “shackle shoe” and were close to putting it on the market until they faced large amounts of criticism. Rev. Jesse Jackson saw the shoe and commented by saying, “The attempt to commercialize and make popular more than 200 years of human degradation, where blacks were considered three-fifths human by our Constitution is offensive, appalling and insensitive.” When I saw pictures of the shoe I felt just as sickened as everyone else who spoke out against Adidas. For a company of this large to even consider selling a shoe of this nature is truly baffling.

In conclusion, after reading about Adidas’ worker conditions and “shackle” shoe, my opinion on them changed. I kept asking myself how Bucknell University would promote a company who has done things like this. Cornell University ended their partnership with Adidas in 2012 as a result of Adidas refusing to pay about 2 million dollars in severance pay. If other institutions ended their contracts with Adidas, why hasn’t Bucknell?


7 responses to “Adidas

  1. Do you think that Bucknell, and other sponsored teams and individuals should end their sponsorship by a brand based on its social responsibility? I agree that it does not look good for Bucknell’s image for their sponsor to be less than ethical when it comes to working conditions and product decisions. Is it possible that if schools and teams refused to continue sponsorships until improvements were made that brands such as Adidas and Nike would be forced to change?


    • I think the Nike case study proved that universities discontinuing endorsements can have a tremendous impact. There are clearly a lot of parallels between Nike and Adidas in terms of failing to meet the needs of their supply chain, and customers being aware of this and pulling their financial support forces them to see the financial impact of their negligence even if they won’t acknowledge their ethical obligations. Judging by Joe’s post, it seems like Adidas deserves as much public condemnation as Nike (if not more- I can’t believe anyone thought “Shackle Shoes” were a good idea). I just wonder, why don’t they? Perhaps Jeff Ballinger’s pointed relentlessness toward Nike was really what drove all the media attention to them, as this seems to be the key point of difference between the two cases. Maybe we just need someone to step up and make some noise about Adidas to spark and build public awareness so they’ll be forced to see the same censure from their customers and partners and make a change.


    • I think the only way for change to occur is if colleges and other large sponsors take action. It is great for small groups of people to protest against companies like Adidas and Nike for exploiting workers, but that is simply not enough. Losing a few consumers is nothing compared to losing a few colleges who they sponsor. Cornell made a decision to end their relationship with Adidas and if other colleges did this as well Adidas would be in a much tougher spot. It would force them to rethink what is going on in their factories and ultimately some sort of change would occur. Bucknell gives a lot of business to Adidas and I wonder if they ever considered not doing business with them because of the things people have accused them of.


      • I couldn’t agree more, that the issues you brought up are appalling, and that colleges have the power to influence Adidas’ actions in the future. But being an athlete at Bucknell, I have seen first-hand how crucial that sponsorship with Adidas is for us. Our teams are often times funded by alumni, and we can use all the help we can get. There are a lot of costs that come with division one sports, and I think it is unrealistic to think that Bucknell would ever discontinue this sponsorship based on social responsibility.


  2. Hi! This is a great post. My name is Julia, and I work for the United Students Against Sweatshops. A few years ago, we launched the very campaign you are referencing in solidarity with Indonesian Adidas workers, and our chapter at Cornell, alongside numerous other institutions, severed contracts with Adidas. I would love to talk with you more about Bucknell and what you think could be done there. We have since won the Adidas campaign (they lost numerous contracts with universities and subsequently agreed to pay the severance), and we have moved onto other anti-sweatshop fights that involve VF Corporation, the parent company of JanSport, The North Face, Vans, Timberland, and a number of other brands.

    If you’re interested in speaking, please shoot me an email at


  3. I completely agree that if universities dropped their athletic apparel sponsors, it might prompt a wake-up call for companies like Nike and Adidas to address their wrongdoings. However, if Bucknell ends its relationship with Adidas, who will become the new sponsor? Nike? I don’t think so. After doing some research about possible replacements for Bucknell and other schools, I stumbled upon Under Armour. I could not find much negative press about them, and in fact, Under Armour seems to be an industry leader in terms of labor issues. Maybe our athletes will be sporting Under Amour cleats in the near future.


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