Thursday, March 03, 2011

Adidas Screws Up the 2011 Boston Marathon Jackets

Running is always about the experience. It's often about goal setting, hard work and making it happen. We often bust our butts for our goals and are rewarded with a sense of accomplishment. Often that's enough. And it should be enough. But let's face it, often times momentos are associated with our accomplishments and enhance the experience.

100-mile races give belt buckles. Marathons give medals. Our local Pineland Farm Trail Races give cowbells. The Bradbury Mountain Trail Running Series and Bradbury Mountain Snowshoe Series both give "Bad Ass" awards for doing all three races. The Mt. Washington Road Race bumper stickers which say "The Driver of This Car Ran Mt. Washington", cleverly modeled after the ones they give out to those who drive their gas guzzlers to the top. There are many more, but hopefully you get the idea. 

These become important objects because they are earned. They become part of the goal and they symbolize our efforts and are constant visual reminders to us (and others) of what we worked hard for and what we are about, at least in part. Yes, it shouldn't be about the goods. But in part, for many of us it is.

Enter the Boston Marathon jacket:

These jackets have traditionally been somewhat flashy and had a high quality embroidered Boston Athletic Association logo on them. Even if purchased separately, it's still THE icon for Boston Marathon runners, if you care about that sort of thing. 

However, this year the logo is silk screened, not embroidered. The problem with that is durability, with a reported life span of just a few years before it wears away based on other jackets of similar design. 

Adidas is claiming it was an error. Okay, that's fine and dandy. After all, mistakes happen. How an alleged mistake such as this one happened is beyond me and reeks of incompetence (or something fishier), but whatever... apologize and correct the mistake. But apparently Adidas won't make things right. C'mon they've had several months to fix the problem... they just won't.

Here's the blanket response they've been giving to customers who ordered the jacket before the race (and many are returning them after seeing the poor quality):

We sincerely appreciate your feedback on the Official Boston Marathon Jacket. You helped us discover an error made in our supply chain that resulted in a screen printed logo instead of embroidered logo. As seen in previous images on, we thought we were getting embroidered products too. We apologize for the confusion and thank you for alerting us.

While not what was anticipated, the Official Boston Marathon Jacket for 2011 is screen printed. 

We take this situation very seriously and have taken the following steps to address the situation:
(1) We have re-priced the product to $85
(2) Purchasers on prior to Feb 15, 2011, we will be emailing you to arrange a credit for the difference.

We have been proud partners with the Boston Athletic Association for many years and value deeply the event and our relationship with the marathon and its participants. We look forward to seeing you at the 115th Boston Marathon.

Most large corporations only care about one thing: money.  So I thought I'd translate the above message to what I think is the reality of their thinking:

Alright, yet another person who's bugging us about our screw up on the Official Boston Marathon Jacket, so I guess we feel obligated to respond. Unfortunately, you discovered an error made in our supply chain that of course we knew about but hoped nobody would raise much stink about in regards to a low-quality printed logo with a short life span as opposed to the time-tested embroidered logo. As seen in previous images on, we thought we'd tease you a bit with what it should have been like and we refuse to take the steps to put out embroidered ones for the expo even though we have months to do so. We apologize for sucking as a company, but hey, we'll take a chance at pissing off tens of thousands of runners rather than do the right thing and please our customers.

While not what was anticipated, the Official Boston Marathon Jacket for 2011 is screen printed so deal with it and buy our stuff. 

Here, to make ourselves feel better, here you go:
(1) We have re-priced the product to $85
(2) Purchasers on prior to Feb 15, 2011, we will be emailing you to arrange a credit for the difference. 

We have been proud partners with the Boston Athletic Association for many years and we're too stupid to realize that we are taking a giant dump on our relationship with them and you. We look forward to you hopefully buying more of our stuff at the 115th Boston Marathon. 

Okay, and as a courtesy to Adidas, I will go ahead and write the message they should be sending to customers:

We screwed up and are sincerely sorry. We'll make it right. Fortunately, because we are a big company we'll utilize our resources and make sure embroidered jackets will be available for purchase at the expo.

We've even figured out a way to do it without hiring the services of sweat shops overseas. If you already purchased one of the silk screened models, you may send it back and we'll happily exchange it for an embroidered one when they're ready.

See, was that so hard? For many folks, myself included, this could be our only shot at running the Boston Marathon, especially with harder qualification standards set to go in effect. That makes the jacket quality all the more important. Thanks a lot Adidas.


middle.professor said...

apparently their staff was dreaming about sex all day

Stick it to the Man, Jamie!

Stephanie Nichole said...

Hey! I just saw your comment and blog come up in twitter. I was already a little disgruntled about the color (We need that Boston Blue and yellow!) but I had no idea it was screen printed!!!!

I've been told that at the expo there are actually the old versions of the jackets with the sewn logo (this years) hopefully that's true.


Blaine Moore said...

The first time I ran Boston I bought a hat. Couldn't justify the expense (or need) for another running jacket at the time.

Had I bought one for this year and gotten one of those on my doorstep, I'd have sent it back for a refund.

Then again, I probably wouldn't have ordered one, I'd have just bought one at the expo anyway (or, well, passed on buying one, which is what I've done in the past.)

Scott (Natick guy) said...

When I ran Boston in 07 and 08 there was anotehr vender at the Expo that sold nice embroidered jackets so hopefully that is still the case.

Scott (Natick guy) said...

Jamie, when I ran it in 07 and 08 there was a company at the Expo both years that sold embroidered jackets. Hopefully that is still the case. I'll look check mins for a company name.

Steve said...

I don't buy the screw up excuse. It sounds like adidas was trying increase their profit margin by going with the less expensive screen printing versus embroidering. They probably figured the majority of runners wouldn't notice the difference or care and would far out number those that did.

mucklechumps said...

Jeff you crack me up. I learned that ADIDAS acronym as a boy and havent forgotten it either.

Constance J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Constance J said...

I was also disappointed to receive a men's tech shirt when I picked up my packet.I heard a rumor that they "ran out" of women's small. So now if I want to proudly sport my 2011 Boston shirt, it will look like I borrowed my husband's or something. Thanks Adidas; I got over it a little when I ran a PR though.

Bob Carlyle said...

"life span of just a few years"

A few years is all you can go around bragging that you got into Boston. Don't you have any other jackets?

Jamie said...

That was so last year, Bob.