The email, which was received by Drapers but not published while the information was corroborated with the Adidas press office, came from a false email address and hailed a new dawn at the company under the tagline “own the reality”.
The fake release said: “Together with the board of directors, we are fundamentally reshaping the very structure of our company, from the top down, so that leadership will now also come from the bottom up.
It also mentioned “making an immediate payment of €11.2m in wages to Cambodian workers whose wages were withheld by suppliers during the pandemic”.
The hoax has been linked to "culture jamming" group The Yes Men, although this has not been confirmed.
Pressure groups have claimed that more than 30,000 workers in eight factories that produce Adidas clothing across Cambodia are owed millions of dollars as a result of pandemic shutdowns, which Adidas has denied.
Vay Ya Nak Phoan, a trade union leader and former factory worker, was also named in the release as future co-CEO alongside Bjørn Gulden, the former Puma executive who took over as boss of Adidas at the start of this year.
A spokeswoman from the sportwear brand replied to publications involved – some of which had already published the story online – yesterday (17 January) stating it it had not released a press statement “or made comments on an alleged restructuring”, prompting other websites to take the story down.
"In case you’ve seen a press release, this is not legitimate and Adidas is not the sender," the company said.
The launch was given context through a new “realitywear” product range. This too did not originate from Adidas. At a spoof event in central Berlin, bruised and bloodied models tripped down a catwalk with “realitywear” garments hanging off them. A pair of Adidas sliders with metal spikes jutting from the soles was also presented in a glass cage.