The rapper, formerly known as Kanye West, has cut ties with several brands after a series of racist posts on social media. West, now known professionally as Ye, launched an anti-Semitic tirade that cost him his billionaire status.
The social media rant is the latest in a string of online behavior that has cost West all of his deals with the brand. The high fashion brand Balenciaga was the first to reject the rapper, followed by Gap and JPMorgan Chase. Many viewers were waiting for the most profitable brand, Adidasto make a decision around problematic music.
On October 25, 2022, the sportswear brand announced that it was ending its relationship with West. “Adidas does not tolerate anti-Semitism,” the company said in a statement.
Kanye is losing a lot of money
Adidas’ choice to cut ties with the West will be a short-term blow. The company will lose about A$390 million, but will win in brand safety. Faced with backlash online, Adidas was already in the midst of a boycott, with the world watching to see what would happen between the brand and the West.
West has been designing for Adidas for seven years, announcing a collaboration called Yeezy in 2015. The shoe is a global phenomenon, with buyers paying upwards of $650 for a pair of sneakers.
Adidas posted a short-term loss, but the cancellation cost West his billion-dollar status. He lost a total of $400 million overnight, knocking him out of the exclusive billion dollar club.
Adidas is reaching out to sneaker boutiques and ordering them to stock Yeezy product. Stores are prohibited from running Yeezys and all shipments will be discontinued.
— brendandunne (@brendandunne) October 25, 2022
Has the damage been done?
The West has dominated pop culture headlines for some time now. From threatening his wife, Kim Kardashian, whom she hasn’t dated, to walking out of the school his children attend and putting them in danger, West has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. While rumors of him doing it for publicity have crept in as he continues to release music, his latest online behavior has been career damaging.
It’s unusual for brands to make deals with celebrities, but for so many people to sever ties that are worth billions of dollars is unusual. Sometimes “cancellation culture” comes under scrutiny as some argue that it robs us of free speech. But in the case of the West, free speech is mixed with racist outbursts and anti-Semitic tirades. Pulling the pin is not only for the long-term safety and protection of brands’ own social standing, but also creates connections and alliances between the brand and marginalized groups. Such drastic measures will mean long-term wins for the company.
As for West, time will tell what the long-term consequences of his behavior are. And honestly, who cares? De-platforming hate speech is an important step for brands, not only for brand safety, but for a more unified future.