Inside Kanye West’s Adidas partnership: A swastika, tears, thrown shoes, and pornography

Miu von Furstenberg 2 Min Read
2 Min Read
Kanye West greets the paps with open arms
Los Angeles, CA - Los Angeles, CA - Kanye West arrives at LAX in a great mood with a huge smile on his face. The rapper is wearing a red hoodie with skinny jeans as he greets the paps with open arms. (Photo by AKI-GSI)

A jaw-dropping investigation from the New York Times reveals new details of the partnership between Ye (Kanye West) and Adidas.

The lucrative partnership – more than $1 billion worth of the rapper’s shoes were sold in a year – ended last year after Ye made antisemitic and other offensive, erratic comments.

But this story shows how early in their relationship Adidas knew of his propensity for these inexcusable remarks – and how those warnings of the reputational risks were ignored.

Adidas Yeezy
Photo Courtesy of Adidas

The list of offenses is far too long to recount here, but here is a smattering of lowlights from the Times investigation:

  • In 2013, he drew a swastika on a shoe at the company’s German headquarters. He told a Jewish Adidas manager to “kiss a picture of Hitler every day.”
  • In 2019, he reportedly demanded a $1 billion advance and then hurled shoes around a room during a meeting—yet Adidas responded by paying him more.
  • Ye repeatedly forced Adidas employees, including executives, to watch pornography. The list goes on.

Through it all, the Times reporting found that Adidas ignored warnings that Ye posed a reputational risk to the organization. Even when other companies cut ties with the artist over his public remarks and outrageous behavior, Adidas held on far longer.

Brad Jakeman, a former PepsiCo executive, told the Times that companies must serve the bottom line, of course. Still, they also must protect the organization’s reputation, especially in cases where a spokesperson’s flaws were readily apparent.

“Then you’re left with: At best, the company was sloppy,” Jakeman told the Times. “At worst, it was complicit.”

West did not respond to the Times’s request for comment. Adidas said in a statement it “has no tolerance for hate speech and offensive behavior.”


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Last update on 2024-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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