The company claims that a number of press releases that were purportedly sent by Adidas about the start of Berlin Fashion Week, its treatment of workers abroad, and other matters pertaining to its corporate structure were false.
“We’re not commenting on these fake emails/releases,” said Vice President of external communication Claudia Lange of the retailer wrote to CNBC in an email.
In one fabricated press release, it was claimed that Vay Ya Nak Phoan, a co-CEO who had previously served as a union leader and former factory worker from Cambodia, had been appointed in order to ensure manufacturing was conducted ethically.
The Yes Men, an activist collective with a track record of making parodies to highlight how corporations handle social issues, confirmed to CNBC that it was behind the releases alongside other organizations. The groups are hoping that Adidas will sign the Pay Your Workers labor agreement, which supports the right to organize and fair wages for garment workers.
“In the wake of several scandals, it seems like it would be a great thing for them to turn over a new leaf,” said a member of The Yes Men who claimed to be Mike Bonanno.
In two of the fake press releases, it was stated that Pharrell Williams, Bad Bunny, and Philllllthy were launching a line of clothing for Adidas called REALITYWEAR. The fake press release announcing Berlin Fashion Week’s debut on Jan. 16 claimed it was part of a push for a renewed focus on workers’ rights and material sourcing.
Adidas outlines its stance on workers’ rights on a “Workplace Standards” page dedicated to the issue, spelling out its code of conduct for worker health, safety, pay and “responsible sourcing.”
The Yes Men’s involvement with the campaign was first revealed by The Guardian.
The multi-layered Yes Men campaign also referenced the now-ended partnership with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West who has come under fire in recent months for anti-Semitic statements, and included a “response” from the company, providing fabricated responses to points raised in the first releases.