Adidas is facing backlash and the threat of boycotts in response to its latest Impossible Is Nothing campaign honoring women in sports.
The sportswear brand debuted The I'mPossible film series on February 14, which features volleyball player Tifanny Abreu; basketball player Asma Elbadawi; model Ellie Goldstein; actor Hoyeon; runner Fatima Ibrahimi; skateboarder Momiji Nishiya and yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley. The mission behind it, Adidas tells Yahoo Life, is to demonstrate "the belief that sport has the power to change lives, with the brand’s seasonal narrative supporting those who are breaking down barriers and driving gender equity, on and off the field of play."
While the campaign highlights the stories of women "who have made their impossible possible, with the aim of inspiring others to do the same," according to the brand, it is being aired on repeat throughout the men's NCAA basketball tournament.
"We aim to drive further visibility to this message during March Madness, inspiring the next generation of student-athletes to continue to push boundaries for a more equal and inclusive community of sport," Adidas says.
By pushing boundaries, however, it seems that the brand has caused some upset.
Critics have taken to the brand's social media pages to express disappointment in the message — most notably, the inclusion of transgender Brazilian athlete Abreu amid heated debates about trans athletes.
"Impossible for me to ever buy another adidas product," one person responded on Twitter. "I’m buying a different brand."
Another wrote, "Now I'm muting you. I suggest that all women do the same and also boycott your products."
Others called the brand "fake woke" and suggested that the 30 second commercial "destroyed the company."
Thanks for making it clear you support destruction of women’s sports. Now I know not to buy your products!
— FuriaDiDonna (@PazzaLaDiva) February 21, 2022
Still, Adidas has found support from audiences happy to see LGBTQ representation, among the inclusion of other inspiring women.
— molly pitzer 🌻❤🇺🇦 (@mollypitzer) March 26, 2022
It's a welcome surprise to see the Transgender Community being recognized by corporate America during a month other than June. Thank you.
— C (@czuck1983) February 22, 2022
"It's a welcome surprise to see the Transgender Community being recognized by corporate America during a month other than June. Thank you," one viewer wrote. Another said, "I'm buying a pair [of Adidas] right now!"
Adidas tells Yahoo Life that the ad campaign is just a part of "the brand’s commitment to creating a more equitable future in sport," as it recently unveiled its own Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) network founded in equity and inclusivity.
"With the ability to reach over 50,000 student-athletes across 23 sports and 109 schools, the new NIL program will give eligible student-athletes of all genders the opportunity, directly with adidas, to become paid affiliate brand ambassadors," a statement from the brand reads.
“At adidas, we are committed to creating change through sport and recognize the important role student-athletes play in shaping the future,” said Rupert Campbell, president of Adidas North America. “Our groundbreaking NIL program advances our commitments toward building inclusivity in sport and inspires athletes to realize a more equitable world. I can’t wait to see it come to life.”
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