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Marketing Brand Strategy Crisis PR

It’s time for Adidas to kick Kanye, and his kicks, to the curb once and for all

By Aaron Kwittken | CEO

October 24, 2022 | 4 min read

On Adidas’ homepage it says: ‘We think about the impact we have on our world.’ Well, Adidas, it’s time to stop thinking and start acting, writes Aaron Kwittken, founder of KWT Global.

adidas sneakers

The man behind the sneakers must be ditched

On the heels of his repeatedly antisemitic, bigoted, hateful statements and erratic behavior, CAA and Balenciaga recently severed ties with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. Both Twitter and Instagram have restricted Ye’s account, #adidasisgarbage is trending across social media and numerous advocacy groups, celebrities and politicians have publicly condemned Ye.

Yet the global, German-owned sportswear behemoth Adidas says its partnership with Ye is currently “under review,” possibly putting the highly lucrative Yeezy fashion line and Ye’s billionaire status at risk. Ye’s only other public ally is Elon Musk, and that’s not saying much.

By not immediately severing ties with Ye, Adidas is explicitly supporting a powerful global influencer’s platform of hate and in doing so is actually putting lives at risk in exchange for the livelihoods of its management, employees and shareholders.

To be clear, this is not your run-of-the-mill case study involving a celebrity at risk of being canceled for making an insensitive remark or off-handed gaffe for which they try to apologize after they are told to do so. Ye is an unapologetic, serial defamer, racist and antisemite. He’s dangerous.

Please don’t tell me we should excuse his bad behavior and separate the art from the artist. He may be a musical genius, but his blatant impenitence and arrogance is unambiguously inexcusable.

To say that Ye’s bigoted statements and behavior are due to his mental health is deeply offensive to people who struggle with their mental health. Antisemitism and racism are not symptoms of mental health issues – they are in fact human health issues.

On Adidas’ homepage it says: ‘We think about the impact we have on our world.’ It’s time to stop thinking and start acting. Start by kicking Ye and his kicks to the curb. And if you are one of Adidas’ agencies, run, don’t just walk away – especially if you are its PR agency. Either it is not listening, or you are not counseling it wisely.

Aaron Kwittken, founder and chairman, KWT Global and president of PRSA-New York.

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