Adidas bans 'gay' from customisable trainers as Tom Daley is announced as face of NEO label

Sports brand said decision to ban words such as 'gay' and 'lesbian' was made 'to prevent a small minority of people from abusing the system'

Heather Saul
Tuesday 11 February 2014 17:46 GMT
A screen shot showing an attempt to write 'gay' in the customise section
A screen shot showing an attempt to write 'gay' in the customise section

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Adidas has banned the word 'gay' from its customisable trainers available online, shortly after announcing Tom Daley as the new face of their NEO label.

As well as 'gay', the online entry system also bans the words 'lesbian', 'bisexual, 'trans' and 'homophobia', but does allow the word 'straight' to be entered into the 'personalise name' entry box.

Adidas have said these restrictions on words are there to prevent people from "abusing the system".

A spokesperson for adidas told The Independent: "The word restrictions built into our miadidas ordering system are unfortunately driven by the need to prevent a small minority of people from abusing the system and therefore we restrict the usage of certain terms based on those terms most likely to be mis-used.

"This policy is by no means representative of our brand policy on gay rights and is instead designed as a means of providing more automated control when dealing with a system that sadly gets abused by a small minority of consumers.

"The word 'straight' has been permitted because it is more commonly used in other ways, rather than solely as term to describe someone’s sexuality, whilst 'lesbian' and 'gay' are quite specific.  It is also less likely to be abused or used in a derogatory context.

"However, it  is not our intention to bracket words such as 'gay' or 'lesbian' into the 'bad words' column, but in a largely automated system, the fear is that the word 'gay(s)' could be easily pre-fixed by 'I hate' and therefore we might find ourselves in an equally difficult situation.

"The system is unfortunately restrictive and prevents both genuine and disruptive users from experiencing the miadidas offer. It is the sad reality of the society we live in."

The search restrictions also prevent offensive and homophobic words from being entered.

The decision by the sports retailer to ban the word gay from its customisable products follows controversy surrounding Sochi Winter Olympic sponsor Coco-Cola's Share a Coke promotion in South Africa, which did not allow 'gay' to be written on personalised online cans, although again, straight was permitted.

Coca-Cola has since issued an apology and said "the digital version of the Share a Coke promotion did not properly limit the customisation to individuals’ names."

Nineteen-year-old Daley announced he was dating a man during a video posted on YouTube in December, where he said "he couldn't be happier" since beginning his new relationship with his boyfriend, rumoured to be Dustin Lance Black.

The Olympic diver was announced as the face of the label's ‘Live Your Style’ UK campaign yesterday.

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