Adidas's Shackle Shoes and Other Highly Offensive Products

Venessa Wong
Business WeekJune 25, 2012

Adidas recently canceled plans to release its new Jeremy Scott Roundhouse Mid Handcuffs. The $350 sneakers were labeled as racist and reminiscent of slavery. The German sportswear maker is just the latest company to face backlash for an offensive release.

Nike Sneakers

In 1997, Nike (NKE) recalled a basketball sneaker with a design that was supposed to look like flames but resembled the Arabic word for "Allah," drawing criticism from Islamic advocacy groups.







'Math Is Tough' Barbie


In 1992 the American Association of University Women blasted Mattel’s (MAT) Teen Talk Barbie, which said “Math is tough.” The company removed the saying from the doll’s list of phrases and offered consumers a swap.

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Five Wives Vodka


The image on the bottle shows five women pulling up their skirts. The Idaho State Liquor Division tried to ban sales of Five Wives Vodka—released by Ogden's Own Distillery in Utah in late 2011—for being offensive to Mormons, but this month reversed direction, allowing special orders.





Call of Juarez: The Cartel


This video game developed by Techland was condemned by politicians in Mexico for capitalizing on the country's deadly drug war.








Dick Tracy Tramp Action Figure


In 1990, Disney (DIS) halted sales of its Dick Tracy Steve the Tramp action figure, described on the box as an "ignorant bum … dirty and scarred from a life on the streets. You'll smell him before you see him."










Ben & Jerry's 'Taste the Lin-Sanity'

The flavor named after New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin had lychee honey swirls and fortune-cookie pieces. After being criticized for perpetuating stereotypes, Ben & Jerry's replaced the fortune cookies with waffle cones.

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Menthol X


In 1995, Stowebridge Brook Distributors pulled Menthol X brand cigarettes from the market after protesters complained that the packaging used images associated with Malcolm X and was designed in black, red, and green—symbols of racial pride—to draw black smokers, reported the Los Angeles Times. The marketer denied it was targeting blacks.



'Gay Cure' iPhone App

In 2011, Apple (AAPL) pulled a “gay cure” iPhone app from Exodus International, a Christian ministry that tries to “provide support for individuals who want to recover from homosexuality,” stated its website.





Urban Outfitters, A&F Clothes


Politically incorrect T-shirts are widespread. Urban Outfitters (URBN), Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), and Forever 21 are among the most recent offenders. For instance, Urban Outfitters sold a shirt that reads “Irish I were Drunk” and faux “Navajo” merchandise. In 2002, an A&F shirt read, "Wong Brothers Laundry Service—Two Wongs Can Make It White" (click here to see other examples).

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Click here to see products that have offended consumers.