Pressure is mounting for Adidas to sever ties with Kanye West and Yeezy


On Monday, pressure mounted on sporting goods giant Adidas to sever ties with rapper and fashion designer Ye, the artist better known as Kanye West, after weeks of anti-Semitic comments.

In Los Angeles on Sunday, a hate group hung a banner over a freeway overpass that read “Honk if you know Kanye is right about the Jews” while giving Hitler salutes to oncoming traffic. An image of the incident went viral, prompting celebrities and other public figures to slam the German company for its partnership with the artist and its hugely popular Yeezy brand.

But Adidas has instead set release dates for the new line of Yeezy sneakers, even after Ye himself canceled the endorsement deal and vilified the company’s executives by name.

Jonathan Greenblatt, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Washington Post that he held a series of meetings with senior Adidas executives and shareholders over the weekend to discuss Ye. The answer was “insufficient,” Greenblatt said.

“At this point, we’re kind of flabbergasted at how Adidas dropped the ball and didn’t make a clear and compelling statement about their values,” he said. “Anti-Semitism should be unacceptable under any circumstances,” he said. “The fact that Adidas didn’t make that simple point is shocking given Adidas’ history as a company that once outfitted the Hitler Youth.”

The partnership between the artist and the sportswear giant began in 2013, making Ye a billionaire and helping Adidas reach a new customer base that, according to Morningstar analyst David Swartz, helped the company make an estimated $2 billion a year, or more almost 10 percent of its annual turnover.

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But like most major retailers, Adidas is drowning in excess inventory. Business in China is also declining rapidly, prompting the company to announce on Oct. 20 that it had lowered its 2022 profitability outlook.

The company has checked his three-week partnership with Ye after donning a “WHITE LIVES MATTER” shirt at Paris Fashion Week on October 3 and then tweeting “threatening to kill JEWISH PEOPLE at 3”. He was later banned from his Twitter and Instagram accounts because of injury their terms of use.

Over the weekend, footage resurfaced on Twitter of an interview recorded in early October, in which Ye gleefully said, “I can say anti-Semitic things and Adidas can’t dump me. Now what?” The episode of the Drink Champs podcast was subsequently dropped because Ye also campaigned to spread disinformation about the death of George Floyd, a black man killed in police custody.

And leaked video of him Interview with Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, published by Earlier this month, Motherboard featured the artist in anti-Semitic language and suggested his children learn about Hanukkah rather than Kwanzaa because “at least some financial engineering would be required.”

The fallout continued when a producer of “The Shop,” an unscripted series hosted by LeBron James on HBO, told Andscape that the show had done so Cut his episode with Ye citing his use of “hate speech and extremely dangerous stereotypes”.

But Adidas, whose founders had ties to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, has remained silent about the relationship even as other companies have taken action. On Friday, the French fashion house Balenciaga ended its partnership with Ye.

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On Monday, talent agency CAA dropped Ye as a client over his anti-Semitic tirades, while Hollywood financier and producer MRC shelved a documentary about him that was already in production. According to a press release, Ye “sampled and remixed a classic tune known for over 3,000 years — the lie that Jews are evil and conspiring to control the world for their own gain.”

Gap and Ye, who had plans to open standalone “Yeezy” stores, split in September, a split the artist had long sought and which predates his recent behavior. However, Gap continues to offer “Yeezy” products for sale on its website and touted the launch of a new hoodie on Friday in an email marketing push. Gap spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Adidas officials have not responded to Washington Post requests for comment, nor have made public remarks to other news outlets or on the company’s social media.

The company doesn’t usually comment on Yes’s stunts, like when he said slavery was a choice and publicly disparaged the chief executive. Morningstar analyst Swartz believes Adidas is sticking with this strategy but warns it won’t work this time.

Ye “is becoming more and more flammable … it’s close to the point where it’s not viable anymore,” Swartz said. And while it’s difficult to speculate what the thoughts are at Adidas, “it’s clearly something they don’t really want to see,” he added. “But you must.”

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Then there are practical considerations. A split of this magnitude is complicated, Swartz said. Production schedules are drawn up well in advance—often six to 18 months elapse between product design, manufacture, shipment and release for sale.

“They can’t suddenly stop all their plans for Yeezy shoes,” he said. “It’s not easy to quit without a big loss, which Adidas clearly doesn’t want given its other issues at the moment.”

But now the company is coming under fire from high-profile artists and business leaders. A Sunday tweet from the actress Kat Dennings seemed to sum up the sentiment: “The world is watching @adidas.”

comedian and actor Josh Gad posted on Twitter: “This is not a good person. This is a person whose dangerous rhetoric continues to go unexamined. Hey @adidas, is that correct? Can he single out a single faith and a group of people with hatred and malice and it doesn’t matter? I’m asking for a friend.”

Actress and director America Ferrera urged Adidas to ditch Ye in an Instagram post, adding, “Don’t amplify this man’s influence.”

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a former White House national security official and a key figure in President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, tweeted, “I’m a little shocked by this @adidas has still not issued a statement denouncing hatred and anti-Semitism, let alone dismissed it @KanyeWest‘s ass. Adidas seems more than happy to be a company that supports hate.”

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Meanwhile, the chief executive of entertainment and media agency Endeavor said in an editorial for the Financial Times that companies collaborating with Ye – including Adidas, Spotify and Apple – should go out of business.

“Those who continue to do business with West give an audience to his misguided hatred,” Ari Emanuel wrote. “There should be no tolerance anywhere for West’s anti-Semitism. This is a moment in history when the stakes are high and it is important to be open about and living our values. Silence and inaction are not an option.”

Greenblatt, the ADL leader, said celebrities, athletes, sports leagues and others who do business with Adidas should demand that Ye be fired or their own partnerships abandoned.

Adidas makes uniforms for the National Hockey League, sponsors dozens of professional basketball, baseball, football and soccer players, and outfits dozens of top-flight college athletic departments. Along with Ye, it has major fashion collaborations with Beyoncé and Bad Bunny.

“I think entertainers, leagues, teams, universities all need to ask themselves what it means to work with a company like Adidas that refuses to step up and reject anti-Jewish hatred,” Greenblatt said.

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