How Adidas Expertly Managed Online Reputation Following Kanye West Controversy

A recent study by Lightbox Search, a technology platform that provides search result intelligence for agencies and in-house communications teams, found that Adidas suffered the most significant backlash following the termination of its relationship with Kanye West (“Ye”) in October.

After Ye made an antisemitic tweet, several companies, including J.P. Morgan, The Gap, Foot Locker, and CAA, cut ties with him. Adidas ended its relationship later than the others, which led to a backlash against the company, particularly online.

However, by the end of November, Adidas’ search results were almost entirely positive, and by December 2nd, 2022, the Adidas U.S. Google page did not mention the controversy at all.

According to Laurence Moskowitz, CEO of Lumentus and Lightbox Search, Adidas’ search engine marketing and optimization teams and agencies effectively regained control of the company’s Google search results.

In contrast, luxury fashion brand Balenciaga continues to experience consequences from its suspended relationship with Ye.

After the termination of the relationship, Balenciaga released two ads featuring controversial content featuring children, which took the top two positions in search results over Kanye’s botched relationship with the company.

This further damaged Balenciaga’s online reputation and exacerbated the negative impact of the relationship with the rapper.

These findings demonstrate the importance of monitoring search results, building a strong digital presence, and effectively managing a crisis to protect a company’s reputation.

According to Pew Research Center, 81 percent of Americans trust Google Search more than traditional and social media, making search strategy a vital part of brand management and corporate communications.