The rapper formerly known as Kanye West has had his ties severed with several brands after a string of racist social media posts. West, now professionally known as Ye, went on an anti-semetic tirade which has seen him lose his billionaire status.
The social media rant is the latest in a series of online behaviours that has left West losing all of his brand deals. High fashion brand Balenciaga ditched the rapper first, followed by Gap and JPMorgan Chase. Many onlookers waited for the most lucrative brand, Adidas, to make a decision around the troubled musician.
On 25 October 2022, the sportswear brand announced that it would be severing its ties to West. “Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism” said the statement released by the company.
Kanye loses big bucks
Adidas’ choice to cut ties with West will be a short term hit. The company will lose close to AUD$390 million, but it will come at a win of brand safety. Facing online backlash, Adidas was already in the midst of a boycott, as the world watched on to see what would happen between the brand and West.
West has been designing for Adidas for seven years, announcing the collaboration called Yeezy in 2015. The shoes are a worldwide phenomenon, with shoppers paying upwards of $650 for a pair of sneakers.
Adidas has posted a loss for the short term, but the cancellation of the collaboration has cost West his billion dollar status. He has lost a total of $400 million overnight, taking him out of the exclusive billion dollar club.
Adidas is reaching out to sneaker boutiques and telling them to pull Yeezy product. Stores are not allowed to launch Yeezys and all deliveries will be stopped.
— brendandunne (@brendandunne) October 25, 2022
Is the damage done?
For sometime now, West has dominated pop culture headlines. From threats to his estranged wife Kim Kardashian and whomever she’s dating through to outing the school his children go to and putting them at risk, West has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. While rumours about him doing it for publicity have swirled as he continues to release music, his latest online behaviour has been career damaging.
Brands cutting deals with celebrities isn’t unusual, but for this many to sever ties, costing billions of dollars, is unusual. Sometimes ‘cancel culture’ comes under scrutiny as some argue that it is ridding us of our freedom of speech. But, in the case of West, freedom of speech is being conflated with racist outbursts and antisemitic tirades. Pulling the pin is not only for the long-term safety and the protection of the brands’ own social standing, but it also creates bonds and allyship between the brand and marginalised groups. These sort of drastic measures will mean long-term wins for the company.
As for West, time will tell what the long-term effects of his behaviours are. And, quite frankly, who cares? Deplatforming hate speech is an important move for brands, not only for brand safety but for a more unified future.