September 27, 2020

CASE STUDY: American Sports Brand

The story of the then “controversial” sport brand to now top of the game streetwear brand.


Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

Back in 2016, an American born sports brand went from the country's iconic sport brand to a political sectarian brand in less than a day.  It started when one board member announced her support to the now President of the United States, and another donated nearly USD 400,000 for the presidential campaign.  The sports brand opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement because “it benefits their competitors”, and publicly stated “… with the President-elect, we feel things are going to move in the right direction.”  With supporters invigorated, a well-known yellow press website later labelled the sports brand the “official brand of the political Revolution.”

In just a week, ex-customers of the sports brand took their dudgeon onto Twitter, and posted videos of vandalizing their sneakers which lead to a serious repercussion to the brand’s reputation.  Regardless of whether the brand is for racially charged individuals is far from the truth, it’s Google search results and what it says online defines it – and it says yes, they are racially charged.  The negative tweets flooding the internet drove the brand’s reputation to the ground due to the way it’s statements were portrayed to the public.  

They later issued a statement “… An employee’s personal support of a political candidate does not equate to a company endorsement.” However, it did little to no impact on infuriated ex-customers - So what’s next for the historically iconic sports brand?

First and foremost, they should stop making public statements to cover up what has been done and instead start acting – do positive things such as anti-hate /anti-racism campaigns or do voluntary work to help those being affected by similar issues. Once the public thrash dies down, the sports brand can feed the public with these positive initiatives.  This is when a good ORM strategy should be put in place to ensure the good news pushes down the negative news.  No one truly knows when these types of news will go away, but by putting good ORM practices in place, such news can be pushed down based on several factors, and it should reduce past repercussions, and benefit the marketing and sales efforts of the brand.