Adidas to Sponsor World OutGames in Miami by John Kell
German sportswear maker Adidas will sponsor the World OutGames, a LGBT-focused sporting and human rights event that will be held in Miami later this spring.
The World OutGames—which first held an event in Montreal back in 2006—is a 10-day affair that draws athletes from more than 40 nations to participate in swimming, track and field, soccer, and other sporting events. It also hosts conferences that focus on human rights initiatives. "Besides the fact that Adidas is a significant player in the sports industry, [the sponsorship] also brings the recognition of a global entity," said World OutGames CEO Ivan Cano. "Sports are sports. They don't discriminate."
The relationship between Adidas and the World OutGames—which the parties are describing as more a collaborative partnership rather than a strict sponsorship—is one of several moves that Adidas has made to promote outreach to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community.
For example, just a few years ago, Adidas started selling a so-called "pride pack" —t-shirts, tank tops, and shoes that feature rainbow colors, representing the symbol that is closely associated with the LBGT community. Those shoes and apparel are often sold during the month of June, when many cities across the United States host their Pride Month events. Adidas is also among the major corporations to receive a perfect score for the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which recognizes corporations that adopt inclusive policies for that community.
Adidas North American President Mark King tells Fortune that the work Adidas is doing to reach out to this community makes sense for a few reasons. "First and foremost, it is a sports activity. And we are in the business of sport," King said. "Second, I think the more we develop as a company, not just as a brand, the value placed on diversity and inclusion has become more and more important. We understand the world is about diversity."
I asked King if Adidas was concerned about any potential risks with the partnership—especially in a world where social media can make anyone a critic. The brand could potentially see some pushback from those that don't support the LGBT community.
In the run up to the 2016 presidential election and the months after President Donald Trump won, several companies have found themselves the targets of social-media driven protests for statements or corporate decisions that would have generated little fanfare in years past. Coffee giant Starbucks (SBUX, +0.54%) is a perennial target of these campaigns. And sportswear peer Under Armour (UAA, +0.03%) also found itself in a pickle after CEO and founder Kevin Plank expressed enthusiasm for President Trump's pro-business stances.
King says he and the team at Adidas weren't dissuaded by that trend. "I don't think we are really worried about it. Companies have to have values," King said. "But one big driving force for us as a company is diversity. When you have diversity, everyone needs to feel included." He added the pact with World OutGames is one critical way to show that and has less to do with marketing and more about how Adidas views itself as a company. Miami will host the World OutGames from May 26 through June 4.
WORLD OUTGAMES MIAMI PAINTS THE CITY WITH A CULTURAL BRUSH OF ARTS PROGRAMMING FOR 10 DAYS, MAY 26 – JUNE 4
World OutGames Miami 2017, a significant 10-day global event merging three significant pillars of Sports, Culture and Human Rights, will present a vibrant series of cultural activations throughout Miami that will serve as a powerful celebration of the area’s diverse arts community. PULSE POINTS and several other memorable events and activities will offer a captivating mix of dance, film, music, poetry, and visual arts.
“World OutGames Miami’s cultural offerings play an important role in this global gathering by sending an impactful message of compassion, hope and love through a harmony of artistic events and performances by over 200 artists,” said World OutGames Miami Director of Cultural Arts Carol Coombes. “We are excited to welcome participants from more than 40 countries plus all of South Florida to embrace the series of events we have created as a significant step towards unity and inclusiveness for all.”
PULSE POINTS, an artistic response to the Orlando massacre at Pulse Nightclub, will take center stage as one of the several cultural events planned to inspire, motivate and engage World OutGames participants and the community at large. This experiential memorial will dramatically exhibit 49 artistic expressions through performance and visual arts in remembrance of the 49 lives lost one year ago.
For history buffs and beyond, there will be programs such as Jewels of Downtown Miami, Icons of the Bay: Stiltsville and Cape Florida Lighthouse, Wynwood Arts District: Inside & Out, Preservation Under the Rainbow and the Gay & Lesbian Walking Tour Miami Beach. Music and dance lovers will delight in It Takes a Village, People tribute show, a cardio pumping ARTworkOUT class at PAMM and Dance NOW! Miami Presents OUT featuring the Joffrey Ballet's "Lacrymosa". Poetry fans will be exposed to the works of famous poets during a reading session at the Favorite Poem Project World OutGames.
Art enthusiasts will enjoy The Colors of Miami Beach, featuring works of art by Leonard Horowitz, Decio Sales-Filho, Will McGaul and the Invisible exhibition by Vladimir Rios and Lester Blum. Sports and art fans alike can take part in a public art tour at Marlins Park, followed by a home game during Home Run for the Arts. Film mavens can venture to a special showing of the Life of Pi presented by the Soundscape Cinema Series, plus a roster of three other films. The cultural programming will also include a spellbinding podcast at Sex and the Sea aboard the Georg Stage Danish ship.
From May 26 - June 4, 2017, World OutGames Miami will also offer a plethora of sporting events and a powerful gathering of internationally respected human rights activists, researchers, legal scholars and trade organizations at the Human Rights Conference.
Athletes with skill levels ranging from beginner to competitive, will arrive at World OutGames Miami ready to challenge themselves physically in a variety of sports held at world class venues across Miami-Dade County.
The 4th Global LGBTQI Human Rights Conference, a three-day event (May 26- 29) held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, will offer a world view of human rights with representation from Brazil, Cuba, Canada, Miccosukee Reservation, St. Lucia, Thailand, Tonga, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States, Venezuela and others.
World OutGames Miami is made possible through the support of adidas, the City of Miami Beach, Florida Sports Foundation, Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, Coca-Cola, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Bacardi, Happy Copenhagen, Arts & Business Council of Miami, Miami Design Preservation League & the Art Deco Museum, The Poetry Foundation, the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights, Miami Sports, Hotspots Media Group, OutClique, South Florida Gay News, 93.9 MIA and additional contributions from many individuals and businesses. World OutGames Miami is funded in part by a grant from the City of Miami Beach, along with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.
Tickets are available for purchase at: https://tickets.completeticketsolutions.com/WOG/Online/default.asp
About World OutGames World OutGames is a multi-sport and cultural event licensed by the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association (GLISA). Every four years, World OutGames brings together athletes from all over the world for a celebration of sport, culture and human rights, many from countries where homosexuality remains illegal and hidden. Previously hosted in Montreal, Copenhagen and Antwerp, World OutGames is open to all who wish to participate, without regard to sexual orientation. There are no qualifying standards, although competitions are arranged according to the skill levels of the competitors. For more information about World OutGames, visit www.outgames.org, www.facebook. com/OutGamesMiami, www.twitter.com/outgamesmiami and www.instagram.com/outgamesmiami.