Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden Reflects on Kanye West Controversy and Yeezy Line Dissolution……
In a recent podcast interview, Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden addressed the controversy surrounding rapper Kanye West, popularly known as Ye, and the subsequent termination of their partnership. Gulden began by praising West’s creativity, calling him “one of the most creative people in the world.” However, he acknowledged that West’s antisemitic comments had a detrimental impact on their collaboration, leading to Adidas ending their contract and discontinuing the Yeezy line of products.
Gulden expressed his belief that West may not have intended the harm caused by his remarks, saying, “Very unfortunate, because I don’t think he meant what he said, and I don’t think he’s a bad person. It just came across that way.” He also emphasized the sadness of losing a partnership that had been one of the most successful collaborations in history.
Adidas, in response to inquiries, reaffirmed its decision to terminate the partnership, stating that it was the appropriate course of action. This decision was made shortly before Gulden assumed the role of CEO in November 2022.
The controversy surrounding West began when he made antisemitic comments in a different podcast, where he made inflammatory statements about Jewish people. These comments sparked global outrage and prompted Adidas to end its nine-year partnership with the rapper.
Prior to this incident, Adidas had put their partnership with West “under review” after he was seen wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt, a phrase categorized as a “hate slogan” by the Anti-Defamation League.
The termination of the Yeezy line had a significant financial impact on Adidas, with an expected loss of $1.3 billion in revenue for the year due to the inability to sell Yeezy clothing and shoes. However, the company has seen some recovery through strong sales of leftover Yeezy inventory. As a result, Adidas now anticipates a €450 million ($491 million) operating loss in 2023, a more favorable outcome than the €700 million ($764 million) loss forecasted in March.
In the aftermath of the West partnership dissolution, Adidas has sought new collaborations, recently securing a $1.2 billion deal with British football club Manchester United as part of their strategy to move forward.