Adidas has ended its partnership with the rapper formerly known as Kanye West over his offensive and anti-Semitic remarks, the latest company to cut ties with Ye and a move the German sportswear company says would affect his results.
“Adidas does not tolerate anti-Semitism and any other type of hate speech,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”
The company has faced pressure to cut ties with Ye, celebrities and others on social media urging Adidas to take action. He said earlier this month that he was placing his lucrative sneaker contract with the rapper under review.
Adidas said Tuesday it had conducted a “thorough review” and would immediately halt production of its Yeezy product line and halt payments to Ye and his companies. The sportswear company said it is expected to make up to 250 million euros ($246 million) in net profit this year as a result of the move. The company is the sole owner of the design rights to Yeezy, Adidas said.
Adidas’ deal with West officially kicked off in 2016, with the company time call him “the most significant partnership ever created between a sports brand and a non-athlete.”
Other companies abandon Ye
Jewish groups said the decision to abandon Ye was overdue.
“I would have liked a clear position earlier from a German company that was also involved in the Nazi regime,” said Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the main Jewish group in the country where Adidas at his seat.
Adidas is just the latest company to end its relationship with Ye, which was also suspended from Twitter and Instagram about anti-Semitic posts that social media say violates their policies.
Earlier this month, Ye tweeted a threat that he would go “dead [sic] con 3” about the Jewish people, alluding to a defense readiness designation used by the U.S. military. He also posted a screenshot of a text exchange with Sean “Diddy” Combs in which he suggested that Combs was controlled by Jews.
West recently suggested slavery was a choice and called the COVID-19 vaccine a “mark of the beast,” among other controversial comments. He was also criticized for wearing a White Lives Matter T-Shirt at his Yeezy collection show in Paris. The phrase has been embraced and promoted by white supremacist groups and sympathizers, according the Anti-Defamation League.
Ye’s talent agency, CAA, let him down, and studio MRC announced on Monday that it was shelving a full documentary about him. Ari Emmanuel, CEO of talent firm Endeavour, wrote an op-ed in the Financial Times last week urging all companies to stop working with Ye on his anti-Semitism.
Fashion house Balenciaga cut ties with Ye last week, according to Women’s Wear Daily. Foot Locker also said it would stop selling the Yeezy brand and remove Yeezy shoes from its shelves and online sites. JPMorganChase and Ye ended their business relationship, even though the bank break was in progress even before Ye’s anti-Semitic comments.
“While Adidas was a little slow in severing ties with Kanye West, they have now caved in to the inevitable and ended their partnership with the artist,” said Neil Saunders, the company’s chief executive. GlobalData Market Research, in an email. “Given the meanness of Ye’s recent comments and the fact that his remarks are now fueling anti-Semitism, among other things, Adidas had no choice but to act in order to protect its reputation and show its customers that he is on the right side of morality.”
A Vogue spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that the magazine and its global editorial director, Anna Wintour, have no plans to work with Ye again after his most controversial remarks and behavior.
In recent weeks, Ye also ended his company’s association with Gap and told Bloomberg it plans to cut ties with its suppliers. Gap said on Tuesday that it was removing all Yeezy Gap Products in the retailer’s stores and on its e-commerce site.
“Anti-Semitism, racism and hatred in any form are inexcusable and not tolerated consistent with our values,” the clothing chain said in a statement.
Protesters on a Los Angeles overpass unfurled a banner on Saturday praising Ye’s anti-Semitic comments, sparking uproar on social media as celebrities and others said they support the Jewish people.
In 2021, Bloomberg ranked West as the richest black American, tying his net worth at $6 billion. Morningstar analyst David Swartz told the Washington Post that sales of Yeezy products generate about $2 billion a year for Adidas, or nearly 10% of its annual revenue.
Shares of Adidas fell more than 3% in trading on Tuesday and are down 61% this year.
Adidas won’t release Yeezy sales figures, but the impact will be more severe than expected given the brand has ended production of all Yeezy products and ceased royalty payments, Morningstar analyst says David Swartz in a note published Tuesday.
Swartz predicts that Adidas’ overall revenue will reach 23.2 billion euros ($23.1 billion) this year, with the Yeezy brand generating 1.5-2 billion euros ($1.99 billion), i.e. nearly 10% of the total. The expensive brand accounts for up to 15% of the company’s net income, Swartz said.