Adidas took too long dropping Kanye West
Controversially the number one rap and hip hop star, Kanye West, has made antisemitic remarks stirring hatred and conspiracy theories. His public outburst has not only generated widespread debates but has also impacted several organizations that have a relationship with West; one of these organizations is Adidas. Kanye West and Adidas had a partnership for West’s brand “Yeezy” since 2013, making the German company billions of dollars. West’s sneaker brand is valued between $3.2 billion and $4.7 billion. This partnership has allowed the German company to make billions of dollars.
Although Adidas finally decided to cut ties with West, their decision to wait until there was
intense media pressure left it clear that the organization prioritizes revenue over shared values and reputation. Over the past few weeks, West has made horrific statements including “Black musicians signed to Jewish record labels and those Jewish record labels take ownership, is a form of modern-day slavery.” He has also stated that “Planned Parenthood was the product of a collaboration between the KKK and Margaret Sanger to control the Jew population.” Despite numerous comments, Adidas stayed silent on the matter for weeks longer than other contracted companies working with West.
The problem with these statements is that is has power to ignite extremist groups. On October 23rd, 2022, a hate group strung a banner across a Los Angeles freeway reading “Honk if you know Kanye is right about the Jews,” while also engaging in Nazi salutes. This action ignited by West was not enough for Adidas to cut him off; rather, the intense media pressure forced them to do so.
Companies including Balenciaga, Talent Agency CAA, JPMorgan Chase, Vogue, Gap, MRC, and even his own ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, have cut ties with the rapper. Anti-Defamation League chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt said, “At this point we are kind of flummoxed how Adidas has dropped the ball and failed to make a clear and cogent statement about their values,” he said. “Antisemitism should be unacceptable in any circumstance. The fact that Adidas has not made that simple point is shocking when one considers Adidas’s history as a company that once outfitted the Hitler Youth.” While Adidas made a good decision ending the contract with West, their slowness negatively impacts their reputation, considering their previous antisemitic history.
Adidas’ delay in cutting ties with Kanye West and Yeezy is having a profound cost in the company’s reputation. West even mocked the company saying “I can say anti-Semitic things, and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what?” This is a power tactic, showing his influence over the company and how Yeezy has benefited Adidas. The irony of this is Adidas’ mission statement includes “through sport, we have the power to change lives” and “to be the global leader in the sporting goods industry.” By Adidas not following other companies timing and cutting ties with West, they were endorsing the severity of comments made by Kanye West, antisemitic comments, BLM and George Floyd Mockery, and belittling the #Metoo movement. Adidas, you were a little too late.
By Ava Montgomery
Ava Montgomery was born in Baltimore, MD and raised in Seattle, Washington. She is a senior at SDSU, majoring in Public Relations and minoring in International Studies. Her current internship is at the National Conflict Resolution Center in Small Claims Court Mediation. She is a barista in North Park and loves to travel.