On 15 July, it was announced that sprinter Tyson Gay failed a drugs test. The 2007 world champion and the fastest man over 100m this year has now withdrawn from the upcoming World Championships, though he denied knowingly taking a performance-enhancing drug.
The same day this news broke, sportswear manufacturer Adidas suspended its sponsorship of Tyson Gay. A spokesperson from Adidas said “We are shocked by these recent allegations … Even if we presume his innocence until proven otherwise, our contract with Tyson is currently suspended.”
Using YouGov’s social media analysis tool, SoMA, we can see what pick up this news had on Adidas’s Twitter activity. The day before Adidas suspended its sponsorship of Tyson Gay following his failed drugs test (14 July), the brand had a Twitter reach of 4.6%. The next day (15 July), this reach had risen to 17.4% of the UK Twitter population who had heard something about the brand.
The most popular words mentioned in relation to what was said about Adidas on 15 July include ‘Gay’ (mentioned in 46.7% of tweets), ‘suspends’ (15.4%) and ‘contract’ (13.9%). In fact, all the top fifteen most popular words were linked to Gay being dropped by Adidas because of his failed drugs test, meaning that this news was the cause of the spike in Twitter activity and was dominating what people were hearing about the brand.
Previous analysis of Adidas on SoMA, following Andy Murray’s victory at Wimbledon, also showed an increase in the brand’s Twitter activity, due to its sponsorship of the tennis star. Adidas’s Twitter reach on 7 July (the day Murray won Wimbledon) was 6.7%, which means the news about Tyson Gay reached nearly three times the amount of people on Twitter than that of Murray’s victory.