NEW YORK, Dec. 6, 2022 – Of all the companies that dropped ties with Kanye West (“Ye”), Adidas suffered the greatest fallout with its online image initially shattered, but only weeks later its results were virtually clean, according to a new study by Lightbox Search, the technology platform providing search results intelligence for agencies and in-house communications teams.

The controversy that erupted in early October with a hateful antisemitic tweet, led nearly a dozen companies to cut ties with Ye, though Adidas ended its relationship later than the others, such as J.P. Morgan, The Gap, Foot Locker, and CAA. This led to a backlash against Adidas that nearly shredded its reputation, particularly online. Clearly, its search engine marketing and optimization teams, working with its agencies, regained control over its Google search results.

As of the end of November, only an occasional “injected” news story referencing the scandal, Adidas search results were virtually all positive, marketing-oriented, organic or paid results. In fact, by December 2, 2022, the Adidas U.S. Google page contained no direct mention of the controversy.

“From an online search perspective, where most Americans look first for news, the Adidas team performed a near-miracle,” said Laurence Moskowitz, CEO of Lumentus and Lightbox Search. “Through a combination of Google ads, content creation and skilled search engine optimization techniques, the Adidas scandal is now in the rearview mirror, at least in online results. Even when the controversy became nuclear after Ye brought an avowed white supremacist and Holocaust denier to a dinner with the former President, Adidas results were largely insulated.”

Meanwhile, a search of luxury fashion brand Balenciaga, still shows lasting consequences of its suspended relationship with Ye. The company suffered not one, but two own goals weeks later when it released one ad featuring an image of a child holding a doll wearing bondage gear and another, only days later, featuring a document related to a Supreme Court ruling against child pornography. Those stories took pole position and the second slot over Kanye’s defense of the company, which only served to dramatically worsen Balenciaga’s online reputation and recycled the relationship with the now-notorious rapper.

Monitoring search results, building a strong digital presence and rapidly managing a crisis can help extinguish what otherwise could be a wildfire. 81% of Americans trust Google Search more than traditional and social media, according to Pew Research Center, making search strategy a vital component of brand management and corporate communications

About Lumentus
Lumentus is a strategic communications firm based in New York that helps its clients manage their brands, protect their reputations and improve their perceptions across target and stakeholder audiences. The firm’s principals are leading practitioners in the areas of corporate communications, public relations and public affairs, digital reputation management, social media, advertising and branding. Lightbox Search is a majority-owned subsidiary of Lumentus.


Jim Gold