Adidas AG’s Reebok International took to Twitter to mock U.S. President Donald Trump for comments to France’s first lady that some saw as sexist, in a rare example of a consumer brand dipping its toes into politics and diplomacy.
After Trump told Brigitte Macron that she was “in such good shape — beautiful,” the sports-shoe maker responded that there was only one situation in which it was appropriate for a man to make such comments to a woman: When someone finds “a forgotten action figure from your youth, unscathed after decades, in your parents’ basement.”
The light-hearted riposte from Reebok, one of the first athletic-gear brands to target women, shows how marketers are shedding some of their reluctance to touch on sensitive issues as Trump rewrites the rules of political discourse.
Industry leader Nike Inc. has criticized the president’s move to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, and spoke out in favor of diversity in response to Trump’s travel ban on some predominantly Muslim countries.
Consumer brands have generally been reluctant to take sides in such debates for fear of offending potential customers. In November, New Balance Athletics Inc. drew calls for a boycott after a spokesman tweeted a comment that some saw as supporting Trump’s “America first” trade policy. Nike has received petitions to move a Niketown flagship store from New York’s Trump Tower.
In its response via Twitter, Reebok turned to Trump’s favorite digital forum for a steady stream of pronouncements on matters large and small. Reebok’s post, which also included a tongue-in-cheek list of instances in which the brand said the president’s comments were inappropriate — including in an elevator or when being introduced to a future mother-in-law — was re-tweeted 44,000 times.
Trump’s comments came during his visit to Paris last week when he was caught on camera attempting to compliment Macron, who at 64 is 25 years older than her husband, French President Emmanuel Macron. The U.S. leader is 24 years older than his wife, Melania.