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Adidas spelling mistake sparks national Twitter backlash

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Adidas spelling mistake sparks national Twitter backlash

Sportswear manufacturer Adidas last week committed the basic error of failing to check its spelling, resulting in an entire nation of Twitter users unleashing their 140-character wrath upon the company.

With the Copa America 2016 now well underway in sync with the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament, Adidas picked an opportune moment to roll out in-store advertising for the new Colombia kit. Sadly though, they had misspelled the South American country as ‘Columbia’.

Upset Colombians were quick to snap the ads, which brazenly printed the wrongly spelled name of the country across images of Colombian players modelling the new kit, and share them via Twitter. Here are just two examples:

Colombians must be able to relate to natives of fellow spelling challenges Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan, but at least a spellcheck tool will tell users if they have misspelled these two countries. With Columbia being the correct spelling of many towns in North America, as well as the District of Columbia and the Canadian province of British Columbia, the Colombia/Columbia face-off remains one where writers and editors simply need to know the difference, perhaps making it a more advanced version of the often seen there/their or where/were confusion.

It would be a poor excuse for Adidas though, which has been manufacturing the kit for Los Cafeteros since 2011, and it breaks the golden rule of how companies should always get to know their own clients, highlighting that even seemingly small mistakes can be heavily heightened through social media. Adidas has, however, issued an apology on its website for the mix-up, and has said that it has withdrawn the adverts and will install new ones.

The Colombia misspelling has been one of a series of Copa America cock-ups that has got under the skin of what tend to be some fiercely patriotic Latin American nations.

During the June 5th match between Uruguay and Mexico, Luis Suarez and his Uruguayan teammates stood nonplussed as the national anthem of Chile was played instead of theirs. Two days later, the Chileans themselves were victim to another anthem blunder, as theirs was interrupted with the rap music of Pitbull.

A trio of disgruntled South American countries was completed by Bolivia, the flag of which was displayed upside-down during their match against Panama.

With Euro 2016 now in the public eye, it’s to be hoped that the tournament does a little more to build bridges and respect among European nations than its South American equivalent appears to be doing.

John Murray
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