ADIDAS AU: A cautionary tale about a boy, a brand, and a poorly implemented Twitter strategy.

If you don't have time to read this whole thing (even though you really should) the general story is @AdidasAU you are doing it wrong.

Here is why:

1. When people tweet you, tweet them back, simple.

2. Think of hours on twitter like days, 24 hours to respond is like returning a phone call in a month, it is not very efficient service,  and 24 hours is plenty of time for your customer to find a competitor that will help them right this very second.

The number of high profile companies turning a deaf ear to their twitter account is staggering.  Here is some advice and there are two options to suit everyone:

  • If you are on twitter, reply to people that tweet you, it's just good manners.


  • if you don't want to reply, get off twitter.  Easy.

You wouldn't just let your phone ring and ring without having someone answer it, but that is exactly what companies are doing.  The lights are on but nobody is home.

AdidasAU twitter actually goes a step further, adding insult to injury. It took them 11 days to reply to my tweet (and only after I emailed them, more on this below). During that period of 11 days they were tweeting, just not to me.  In my opinion, they are worse than the companies who just have an unmanned twitter account.  Like Kmart here, with their 6 tweets since 2011, and 700 followers which is pretty pathetic for a brand of their prominence, but impressive when you consider they don't really tweet, they don't respond, they are a black-hole of the twitterverse.  

Kmart_Australia are a perfect example of an unmanned twitter account. Check out their profile below.

Kmart Australia's twitter profile is a real black hole. They have not tweeted since March! Why does this account exist? It is extremely embarrassing for their brand.

Kmart Australia's twitter profile is a real black hole. They have not tweeted since March! Why does this account exist? It is extremely embarrassing for their brand.

But AdidasAU are not a black hole. Once or twice a day they let everyone know that they are there, someone is home, you can see them through the window, they just won't answer the door.  And that's personal, and offensive, and dehumanizing. AdidasAU is refusing to acknowledge me as a person worthy of their time.  And because of that, they have started to become a brand unworthy of my money. 

That's the power of twitter and social marketing.

Before I get too deep into this, I to want start this off by saying how much I really love Adidas. Or to be more accurate, how much I did at the commencement of this ordeal. I particularly like Adidas Originals, often buying multiple pieces of the same item, that's how much I like them. That's how big a fan I was of the brand.  I wanted to give them my money.

So this whole thing begins several days ago when I went to the Adidas AU site. After 45 minutes of poking around, I had a cart with 4-5 things in it. I'm stoked and I click 'check out'.  I start filling in the forms and it asks me if I have a promo code, I didn't.

After doing some shopping I decided to tweet @adidasAU

After doing some shopping I decided to tweet @adidasAU

So I change browser tabs to twitter and tweet @adidasAU  something along the lines of "about to buy some new shoes, any promo codes around?"   I would have been accepting of a range of replies, from an actual promo code, to 'sorry not right now', or even a, 'I can't do that here but if you contact xxxxxx maybe they could sort you out'.  

What happened was nothing.  NOTHING!?!?!?

Source: http://replygif.net/

Source: http://replygif.net/

How can they write nothing? They have 25k followers, and they say nothing?  I wait a few more days and I tweet again 'hey I tweeted you, you should tweet me back'.  Again I get no reply.

I resolve to give up on their twitter. Not everyone gets it and I get that.

I go back to my cart to just buy the stuff. But because it has been a few days, two of the items in my cart are no longer in stock, or essentially they sold items in my cart to someone else, which I think is a pretty shitty way to manage your inventory, but that's what happened.  A little thing pops up saying we have updated your cart and removed items that we no longer have. So they had them when I put them in there and now they don't? If this happened in real life, you would be pretty steamed. 

And just like that a happy customer turned into a sad customer.

Source: http://replygif.net/

Source: http://replygif.net/

Now I'm so annoyed I don't go through with the sale. But because I love Adidas I actually take the time to write to them and tell them what happened. I tell them all about how no one responded to my tweets, and now I'm pretty bummed that two things I really wanted are now sold out.  

However, what I find out is that they have segmented, and outsourced many parts of their customer interaction team, that the people I email, are not the people who handle the twitter, who aren't the people that create the strategy.  Or to put it most simply one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing, normally that's not a problem because the customer only sees one hand if the one hand is doing its job properly. 

But the whole thing turns into an embarrassing game of dominoes when the first one falls. And really highlights the dangers of the practice of large companies giving their social media accounts to a team that is operating independently.  I have no doubt that as this problem worked its way though the appropriate personnel that it hit someones desk who would have been disappointed, or angry that the twitter team was under-performing. 

They obviously asked the twitter team to tweet me which they eventually did, but it is truly an occurrence of out of sight out of mind.  AdidasAU kicked the twitter account to a team, closed the door and just assumed that their customers were being taken care of, and only relying on me, the customer to let them know that in fact it was not.   I cant stress enough how dangerous that practice is, It is mind boggling.

But lets take a step back to the email side of my experience.

They replied to my email the same day I wrote them which is great. Their response on the other hand left me speechless. All i can do is cut and paste it below:

10/11/2014 01.01 PM

Hi Brandon,

Thank you for your email.

We are apologies that you weren’t help via twitter for your online enquiry.

Please advise how we can help you regarding ordering on our adidas online store

Thank you for your patience

What does that even mean? Is it a typo? Does this person not understand English?  I don't know and I cant say that I really care.  I just read it and re read it, and I can't understand how this would happen.  The grammar, the sentence structure, that one random quotation mark.  What was the quote? Was he not thanking me for my patience but rather passing on the appreciation of some unnamed person?

The whole thing was just sloppy.

I ask to be contacted by phone. They respond by  asking me what time I'd like to be contacted.  I say "please have someone contact me in 20 minutes".  They write back and say they can't call me in twenty minutes. In an odd twist of events I ask them when they can call me. They say they can call me back after 5pm. I asked for a call at 1pm.

I bang my head on my desk.  Why would they ask me when I want to be called if they can't call me when I want them to?  Basic PR would dictate that if they were not going to be able to call whenever I asked them to, then they should have said upfront, that we have an opening to call you after 5pm. Instead they asked for my preference and denied it.  

At the same time as this email correspondence my phone dings with a tweet from them asking me to please follow them so they can direct message me. I reply "sure thing" and follow them.
An hour passes, and they eventually direct message me. Here is where my head explodes. They proceed to tell me that they do not give out of promo codes.  They tweeted me, got me to reply, got me to follow them, all in an effort for them to tell me NO.

Let that sink in. Someone, somewhere, managing their twitter account after 11 days from my original tweet, after someone higher up demanded they answer me, answers me to tell me NO.  Eleven days in Twitter is like years. That's kind of like calling that girl that liked you when you were in high school, saying, "hey remember how you used to like me and I didn't like you?  You do?  That's great because I still don't like you?"

My brain couldn't comprehend it. After all that, telling me no.  I figured for sure they would have given me something, anything, 5% off, free shipping, SOMETHING.

Now it 5:41, they told me they would call me at just after 5, maybe in 11 days...

Brandon is the Chief Creative at Hot Butter Studio. You can tweet him at @brandonrossen

Karyn LurieComment