Kanye West: What took adidas, Gabe and others so long to cut ties?


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CNN Business

Adidas finished earlier this week Its combination with rapper and fashion designer Ye (who previously went by Kanye West). Its conclusion came at the same time a Flurry of other companies He also cut ties with the artist — but only a few weeks after you started posting hurtful comments.

Many wondered: What took Adidas and others so long?

Above all, Yev’s behavior was worrisome sometime. He called out Adidas directly during a podcast appearance in which he made anti-Semitic comments, boasting that the company would never sever ties with him.

The latest saga began in early October He wore a shirt with the words “White Lives Matter.” A report that the Anti-Defamation League had ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Adidas at that time, this First partnered with the artist in 2013 For Yeezy-branded shoes and apparel, it said it was reviewing the partnership.

Later, during an appearance on the “Drink Champs” podcast episode over the weekend of October 16, he repeated anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Among other offensive claims. He Directly referring to Adidas: “I can say anti-Semitic things and Adidas can’t drop me,” he said. “What now?”

For days, that seemed true.

Adidas didn’t announce it was severing its relationship with Ye until Tuesday, October 25, a week after the podcast was released.

In that report, The company said It “does not tolerate hate speech and any other form of hate speech,” calling Yve’s recent comments “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous” as well as violating the company’s values ​​of “diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”

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Adidas isn’t the only company taking the time: Balenciaga ended his relationship with Yeh Last week, and during Gap and Ye broke up In September, it didn’t pull the Yeezy Gap line from shelves Until this week. Foot Locker is removing Yeezy products this week, and TJ Maxx followed suit Saying that we will no longer buy products sold in shops.

But Adidas gained attention following Ye’s comments on the “Drink Champs” podcast.

Why the delay? In such a situation, companies face a dilemma, said Andrew Gilman, founder and CEO of CommCore, a consulting group specializing in crisis communications. On the one hand, they “need to be really fast,” he said. “At the same time, they want to be intentional.”

Walking that tightrope, companies can slip. A wrong move can have consequences for their finances and reputation.

Looks like the last straw for Adidas A picture that went viral This weekend. Photos from a Los Angeles freeway overpass show a small group of protesters raising their hands in what appears to be a Nazi salute with the words “Hank if you knew” behind “Kanye is right about the Jews” banners.

As the image gained traction online, pressure mounted on Adidas to take a stand.

The incident “awakened these companies,” said Amy Schanler, associate professor of public relations at Boston University’s College of Communication, referring not only to Adidas but to other companies that cut ties with Ye this week. It made them realize that “it’s not just Kanye talking to Kanye…someone else is listening.”

Those individuals who affirmed Yevhen’s anti-Semitic message were not those who wanted to be associated with institutions. From their perspective, “we can’t have contact — even secondary contact — with these hate groups,” Schanler said.

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As for previous incidents, Schanler noted that companies don’t always know how far, even when critics call them out. Also, companies may fear publicizing a controversial incident by highlighting it.

And they are afraid to take a stand first.

“When you’re the first, you’re very visible, you’re the first brand everyone talks about,” Schanler said. “When you’re not the first person, it’s a lot easier to join that group.”

And then, in Adidas’s case in particular, the financial fallout from severing ties.

Adidas will take a €250 million (about $249 million) fourth-quarter charge as a result of the decision, the company said this week. noted fashion attorney Douglas Hand, a partner at Hand Baldachin & Associates.

“It’s just a short-term impact,” he said. “Kanye and Yeezy were a significant part of their revenue and profits,” he noted. “They are, in fact, shutting down a brand that has been very successful for them.”

Yeezy products are almost made $2 billion in sales According to Morgan Stanley, Adidas accounted for 8% of the company’s total revenue last year. This line helped Adidas attract new customers and gain more space in stores. (Adidas remains the sole owner of all design rights for existing products and previous and new colorways under its partnership with Ye.)

Adidas said it will take a big loss in the fourth quarter as it ends its relationship with Ye.

Adidas has a financial responsibility to its shareholders. Before giving up such a lucrative deal, you need to make sure it is the right move.

Hand said most public companies are “too focused on financial results, above and beyond results, to be more aligned with mission.”

But there are costs to dragging your feet.

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The company may suffer damage to its reputation. It’s not yet clear whether that will happen in this case, Gilman noted. “What they lose depends on how strong the brand is,” Gilman said.

By staying silent for several days after the Ye podcast appeared, Schanler said, Adidas “missed an opportunity to make a strong and consistent statement against anti-Semitism.”

— CNN’s Jordan Walinsky, Sonia Hamasaki and Nathaniel Meyersohn contributed to this report.

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