The breakup between Adidas and Kanye West, 46, happened a year ago, but the New York Times revealed that the relationship had been troubled since the beginning of the partnership in 2013.
According to the publication, the German company met with the rapper ten years ago to show some fabrics. However, he didn’t like it and drew a swastika on one of the models.
Sales, however, surpassed the US$1 billion mark per year since then, increasing Adidas’ financial results, and the company ended up tolerating some of his behavior behind the scenes.
During the partnership, in addition to anti-Semitic comments, the artist made sexually offensive comments, exhibited erratic behavior and issued increasingly greater demands. But as the profits were high, everything ended up being under the carpet.
One day, he reportedly advised a Jewish Adidas manager to kiss a photo of Hitler every day.
According to the publication, even as West expressed increasingly toxic beliefs publicly, the brand stepped up production and released Yeezys more frequently. And executives dismissed employee concerns that West’s disruptive conduct would tarnish the company’s reputation.
Days before the swastika episode, the singer had already been filmed showing a porn film to company executives, who were scared. One of the men seemed uncomfortable and pushed the rapper’s arm. “Come on, man,” he’d say. The pornographic video appeared to be used by the singer to draw a parallel between his business and the clothing company, which manufactures and distributes his Yeezy brand.
In a statement to the Times, Adidas said it “does not tolerate hate speech and offensive behavior, which is why the company has ended its partnership with Adidas Yeezy.” West, on the other hand, refused to give an interview and explain the case to the newspaper.
In October 2022, the German sports equipment group said it was reevaluating its relationship with the American rapper, who weeks earlier had criticized the brand for disagreeing with its commercial initiatives.
The group, which did not specify the reasons for its decision, indicated in a statement that “a successful association is based on mutual respect and common values.”
However, “after repeated attempts to clarify the situation outside the public sphere, we have decided to re-evaluate this association” with Kanye West, Adidas added in a statement transmitted to AFP.
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