Aristide Feldholt, identified as an “executive” of Adidas, and DJ Marshmello took the stage on Wednesday at the Web Summit‘s Pavilion 3 to announce a new “virtual oasis“, the adiVerse. However, it was all a hoax.
More than 24 hours later, the lie was revealed by the activist duo The Yes Men, known by the pseudonyms of Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, who played the roles of Aristide Feldholt and DJ Marshmello on stage, despite the obvious physical differences between Bichlbaum and Feldholt.
The Act Itself
In a press release sent to journalists, the activists claimed that the event organizers had believed they had invited Adidas and DJ Marshmello to speak, “when in fact they had a well-organized cabal of activists who conceived a satire to target Adidas for its inaction on labor issues“.
The Yes Men also assured that the Lisbon Breakers dance group, which performed a choreography on stage, had not realized that they had been hired by “imposters“.
The real DJ Marshmello confirmed the hoax on X.
The Yes Men’s Aim
The Yes Men’s main goal is to raise awareness of issues such as labor rights through media stunts, posing as powerful people and spokespeople for large organizations to expose how companies act inhumanely.
The activists say on their website that they “destroy brands, create public illusions, work with communities, disrupt events, and impersonate nefarious entities” with the goal of “supporting positive change around important issues, often those that are not yet receiving the attention they deserve“.
At the Web Summit, The Yes Men presented the adiVerse, a “virtual oasis” through which Adidas would reward tens of thousands of “underpaid” workers through a cryptocurrency, the adiCoin, generated by a tiny chip implanted in the bodies of the brand’s workers and that would track workers’ productivity in real time.
“Imagine a place where workers, even the poorest, can have anything they want, where workers who don’t have a decent meal a day can party all day and all night, where workers can educate and care for their young children, and where even without money, workers can still live full and rewarding lives“, the supposed Aristide Feldholt said on stage at the Web Summit.
Therefore, the adiVerse would allow “offering something even better: a place where workers could enjoy the luxuries of an unlimited dream world” and that workers who cannot afford to eat a meal every day “will be able to live beyond their dreams” and the most disadvantaged “will be able to live full and rewarding lives“, even “without real money“.
Without anyone raising any objections, the supposed “executive” of Adidas spoke of the “Nazi origins” of the brand, “outsourcing of forced labor in World War II“, the problems of child labor “almost resolved“, and the current “labor abuses“.