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A tale of two crises – what communicators can learn from Adidas and Nike case studies communication crisis communications media relations public relations social media

The top two global sportswear brands – Adidas and Nike – have both taken a reputational hit from scandalous comments and social media posts by high-profile celebrity partners. The circumstances were parallel, but the way each company responded to its crisis had profound implications for damage limitation. An analysis of the coverage data reveals some important lessons for communicators everywhere about the interaction between corporate culture and the effectiveness of crisis response.

The headaches for Adidas came from Ye (Kanye West) who criticised the brand and went on to make anti-semitic comments in the media that caused social media uproar. Adidas eventually cancelled its partnership with Ye, but only after weeks of speculation during which time more than 4,000 articles were published, according to data from Newswhip. These articles drove millions of engagements, many of which criticized Adidas for not acting more decisively.

Meanwhile Nike was much quicker to sever...

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Case Study: Silicon Valley Bank -- botched communication fuels the second-biggest bank failure in history case studies communication crisis communications writing

Silicon Valley Bank collapsed in March 2023 after a run on deposits doomed its plans to raise fresh capital. Weak communication was a primary factor in the crisis, on two dimensions:

  • Failure of communication strategy. SVB underestimated how sensitive depositors would be to the news, in the context of recent financial failures.
  • Failure of storytelling. SVB communicated without context and neglected to build a narrative.

SVB was a $200 billion institution and had been the go-to-bank for tech boom startups. They took cash deposits and invested them in securities including U.S. government bonds, a strategy that racked up large losses when interest rates rose. SVB had to sell its investments at a $1.8bln loss and decided to raise $2bln in fresh capital to cover the losses.

Objectively speaking this situation and SVB’s action to resolve it should not have been particularly worrying. However, the way the bank communicated the news on 8 March 2023 caused panic and contributed to a...

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Case Study: OnStar -- the Art of Unspoken Messaging case studies messaging public relations

Some of the best communication campaigns are those where the company creates and gives away something genuinely useful, and has the courage not to spoil it with commercial messaging. A great example popped up as an Instagram ad recently.

Onstar is the connected technology platform installed in newer General Motors vehicles, which among other things can connect a driver remotely to a human advisor to coordinate with emergency services in the event of a crash.

In this campaign, they partnered with a centre that uses art therapy to help people process and heal from trauma from road accidents. We hear the therapist talking about trauma, and we watch people who have been affected by crashes as they explore how creative expression can mend psychological wounds. It's nicely shot with a gentle touch.

The deeper message from Onstar is that their technology gives their customers peace of mind: that they will get help if they're involved in a crash. Beautifully though — that message is...

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