Ye, formally known as Kanye West and his recent uptick in media attention after his antisemitism have led to serious consequences for his brand, notably Yeezy. Ye, after being famous for his music, is also well known for his collaboration with Adidas, creating the expensive and extremely popular shoe, Yeezy. Ye’s brand was put under review after he posted on Instagram a shirt saying “White Lives Matter” and many related messages following that phrase. Adidas put out a press release on Oct. 25, which stated,
“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech. 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.”
Following this press release, Ye lost his billionaire status, according to Forbes. Further, Adidas themselves expect a net loss of $246 million in 2022, and their shares have already been down by 8%. This cut tie was extremely important because it highlights how issues of antisemitism are more important than the loss of money that Adidas is now suffering. Adidas made an active choice to speak out against Ye’s horrible actions, instead of remaining complacent and prioritizing the profit that Yeezy brings to the company. In fact, following Adidas’s cut from Ye on Oct. 26, TJ Maxx, Footlocker and Gap, which were stores that carried Ye Products, have also put out statements saying that they were no longer going to sell any products associated with Ye. Additionally on Oct. 26, Ye attempted to enter Skechers Headquarters to pitch Yeezy for a new brand deal. He was escorted out of the building, and Skechers announced that they have no intention of working with him.
In mid-October, Ye stated in a podcast, “The thing about it being Adidas is like, I can say antisemitic shit and they can’t drop me … I can say antisemitic things and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what?” This statement makes Adidas’ decision so much more impactful, because the more that celebrities think they can get away with being bad and promoting hate, the more they will do it. This also places an important burden on us as consumers to collectively stop listening to Ye’s music, so that he loses money and fame in the place that got him started.
The consequences of Ye’s actions were extreme and dangerous. Ye, as a huge figure in popular culture, spewing antisemitic hate speech has been an inspiration for neo-Nazis now. There was a recent incident on a Los Angeles Freeway involving targeting Jewish individuals with one sign even saying, “Kanye was right about the Jews.” Thus, the response by numerous brands and social media sites to condemn his actions is particularly important — but not enough. There must be more work done to prevent the mobilization of hate groups motivated by Ye’s speeches, tweets and Instagram posts. Furthermore, I think that the reason Ye was able to have such a large impact was because of the platforms that his viewers created for him. We idolize celebrities, talented or not, that do not deserve consistent praise. People are willing to put their ideology behind to support someone that makes good music, which just gives them the power to act in bad ways without consequence. These platforms that we give them give celebrities the opportunity to act politically. Some people use that influence to promote change, but Ye’s actions proves how dangerous it is to give strangers a way to speak to an entire world of eager consumers.