Adidas are offering design services for free to any High School who wants to change its offensive mascot.
Native American* mascots have been an issue of contention in the US for many years, but particularly this year when some states have moved to ban the use of school logos and nicknames inspired by racial stereotypes.
While some teams have changed their names, recognising the issue with schools founded by European Americans using Native American images, names and stereotypes for their own benefit while denying that same group basic rights for many years, others want to hang on to the names for the sake of tradition. And yelling. There has been yelling.
However, a point that has not been considered prominently in the debate is the expense of undertaking what is essentially a rebrand for public institutions with limited budgets. Adidas will help the schools design new identities, and provide financial assistance so that any switching of identity isn’t “cost prohibitive”.
It is entirely optional for schools to take part, but will genuinely help any high schools in a bind, a provide a great springboard for Adidas executives as they attend the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington DC.
An entirely selfless move? No. A brilliant one? Yes.
“High school social identities are central to the lives of young athletes, so it’s important to create a climate that feels open to everyone who wants to compete,” said Mark King, president of adidas Group North America. “But the issue is much bigger. These social identities affect the whole student body and, really, entire communities…”
If adidas can make even a couple of towns places where supporting the school team doesn’t involve promoting gross racist stereotypes, then that’s awesome.
And time and again research has proved that companies who do good do…well, good. Better. Splendidly.
At Cannes Lions earlier this year Unilever, in partnership with Vice, discussed how purchase decisions will be made in the future, and empathy was the main factor. What will matter is not just that the product does the consumer good, but whether it does good for the community, the planet or the people who make it.
Millenials, it seems, are insistent that their lives, down to their employers and the brands they purchase, mean more.
Adidas has a great example that meaning in practice
If you’re an American high school and you want to change your mascot, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
*Adidas use that term, so we’ll stick with that for clarity.