The best way to get your brand to go viral on Instagram: make it about gay rights. Adidas drew the furor of anti-gay activists on Valentine’s Day with an image showing two pairs of obviously female legs, with one on tip-toes, apparently reaching up for a kiss.
The caption read: “The love you take is equal to the love you make.”
The photo, which got 146,000 likes, got plenty of support, but also lots of anti-Adidas comments.
“WTF ADIDAS???? THIS DAY IS FOR BOY AND GIRL, WHEN THEY ARE COUPLE, NOT FOR LESBIANS, STUPID ADIDAS” wrote Instagram user azemann.
“Shame on you adidas !!!! I’m going to Nike now,” said americanhero123.
Adidas replied to each homophobic comment with a big emoji kiss: “No, this day is for LOVE. Happy Valentine’s Day,” it said to “azemann.”
This is not the first time the brand has taken a staunchly pro-LGBT stance. Last year, it released a limited edition of each of its more popular designs featuring the gay pride rainbow flag. The Stan Smith, Adilette Slide and the Superstar all got makeovers, and a portion of the sales were donated to an Oregon-based advocacy group for LGBT adolescents and teenagers. The company also recently introduced a clause in sports sponsorship agreements that said its sponsor agreements would not be terminated or modified if an athlete comes out as a member of the LGBT community.
According to L2’s sportswear report from 2015, Adidas is consistently the second-best performing brand on social media in the sports category. Nike is ranked first. The analysts at L2 drew attention to Adidas’ Instagram chops — the brand has 7.1 million followers on the platform.
Adidas also has one of the highest follower-to-likes ratios on Instagram, besting even Nike, which has many more followers but about the same number of likes per photo.
The brand is also having a good week on the business front: The company signed a deal with Kanye West that analysts said would improve its performance and help the brand steal thunder from Nike and its Jordan line.