Adidas now ponders what it should do with the Kanye West brand that both have raised with admiral success. Is it time to let go?
That it should come to this really surprises no one. In a statement provided to the press, the Three Stripes said, “After repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation, we have taken the decision to place the partnership under review”. When Kanye West read what Adidas sent out that the media lapped up, he responded on Instagram with “FUUUUUUCK ADIDAS I AM ADIDAS ADIDAS RAPED AND STOLE MY DESIGNS” (the post has since been deleted), including a screen shot of a CNBC report of the Adidas’s reconsideration. He was his usual irascible self, just as he was when he reacted to the widespread disapproval of his “White Lives Matter” T-shirt with the post, “EVERYONE KNOWS THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER WAS A SCAM NOW IT’S OVER YOU’RE WELCOME”.
Mr West has, for as long as we can remember, been an angry man, but is much more so, which does not bode well for his business/brand partnerships. He has a tendency to bring his grouses, including those with the makers of his Yeezy sneakers, to the public sphere, with palpable heat. In contrast, Adidas went about resolving the issues with the rapper “privately”, as they said. Mr West prefers/needs the world to know he is unhappy with whoever he is unhappy with, past or present. In the last few months, he had been especially vocal, his denunciation on social media more bitter and vehement as he called out Adidas’s CEO Kasper Rorsted, even posting photos of the members of the board. Early last month, he shared a Photoshopped image of the front page of The New York Times, falsely announcing that Mr Rorsted had died. How his anger towards Adidas became this vengeful is not easily understood.
But that was not the only death that he brought up with regards to CEOs. In an IG post published after his Yeezy Season 9 show in Paris early this week, he wrote that LVMH’s Bernard Arnaud “KILLED MY BEST FRIEND”, accompanied by a photo of the bust of Virgil, the ancient Roman poet regarded by his countrymen as their greatest, which was taken to refer to Virgil Abloh. Quick to respond was Tremaine Emory, the creative director of Supreme. He wrote on IG, sharing Mr West’s post, “I gotta draw the line at you using Virgil’s death in your ‘ye’ is the victim campaign in front of your sycophant peanut algorithm gallery.” We could sense applause. He went on, accusing Mr West of telling his Yeezy staff that “Virgil’s designs are a disgrace to the black community”. Would you say that of your “best friend”? “Ye tell the ppl why you didn’t get invited to Virgil’s actual funeral,” he continued, “keep Virgil name out your mouth…”.
(When staffers at Balenciaga, offered a heart shape in response to this post, Mr West responded with his own, accompanied by a list of the names and photos of the culpable [the post has been deleted]: ”These are the people at Balenciaga that hearted Tremaine’s post where he threatened me after all I’ve done for Balenciaga…”.)
Now, it is the people at Adidas who wish to keep Kanye West out of their mouths. There is so much vitriolic offensive that one can take. It is amazing that Mr West does not see that his outbursts and ugly public persona would likely hurt Yeezy than Adidas, a brand of 73 years, compared to the Adidas Yeezy partnership of seven. The Adidas and Yeezy divorce, if it comes to that, is going to be messy, like those of so many celebrity couples, in particular the many who led exceptionally public lives. In that statement shared to news media, Adidas also wrote that “successful partnerships are rooted in mutual respect and shared values”. Is that euphemistic talk for irreconcilable differences? According to estimates published by Forbes, Mr West’s deal with the German brand “is worth USD220 million annually and USD1.5 billion total”. Without Adidas, it is likely his net worth will dip below USD1 billion. Anger, Kanye West may not realise, is not bridge-building, nor profit-yielding.
Illustration: Just So