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After Ye (Kanye), Adidas Faces Fresh Problems

False releases seek to draw attention to a key part of the athletic wear business.

Activewear giant Adidas  (ADDDF)  has been navigating a number of concurrent scandals -- after cutting all ties with rapper-songwriter Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) over a series of antisemitic posts, the German company has been trying to navigate a future without the once-massively popular collaboration.

While Adidas stressed that it owns the rights to the ultra-popular sneaker and plans to reimagine it to be free of any Ye references, even the temporary stop in production of a line that at one point accounted for over 8% of its profit cannot come without some massive ripple effects.

Adidas has already said that it expected to lose over $246 million in profit in 2022 due to the severed partnership and is currently trying to sell off the $530 million in Yeezy sneakers it is left with. 

The sportswear brand is also under pressure to prove that it is indeed a company that "does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech" by avoiding any future scandals or bad news coverage.

The Fake Adidas Announcements Are Lighting Up The Internet

This is, then, the just about worst time for false announcements to start gaining ground on the internet. Earlier this week, several fashion influencers and journalists reported receiving an email that looked like an Adidas press release claiming that one-time Cambodian factory worker and union leader Van Ya Nak Phoan had been chosen as a new co-CEO alongside present leader Bjørn Gulden.

Sent from a fake email that mirrored the structure of an Adidas corporate address, another such press release claimed that a new collection called REALITYWEAR made together with celebs like Pharrell Williams and Bad Bunny would premiere at Berlin Fashion Week. 

Some influencers even showed up to a spoof Berlin fashion show in which models covered in fake blood walked across a stage in clothing made to look like it had come from Adidas.

Adidas declined to comment specifically on the releases but called them "fake" in an email to CNBC.

"We're not commenting on these fake emails/releases," Claudia Lange, who is the company's VP of external communication, wrote.

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An Activist Group Is Taking Adidas To Task

In reality, the spoof releases were later confirmed to be the work of an activist pairing called The Yes Men. The duo behind it, Jacques Severin and Igor Vamos, are known to impersonate corporations and entities with fake announcements meant to show that the latter are not as committed to certain progressive promises as they say they are when they have to deny the claims made.

In 2009, The Yes Men held a fake news conference pretending to be the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and taking a much stronger stance on climate change. The real Chamber of Commerce had to interrupt the conference halfway through to stop the fake news and later tried suing the duo for trademark infringement and false advertising.

Other names spoofed by the duo include the World Trade Organization, McDonald's  (MCD) - Get Free Report and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This time, the Yes Men said that they had been hoping to draw attention to Adidas' treatment of factory workers in different parts of the world as well as how it plans to move forward after the Kanye West scandal.

"Bjørn Gulden has talked a lot about doing the right thing -- perhaps today’s stunt will nudge them into actually doing it," Vamos told the Guardian.