After cutting ties with Ye's antisemitic remarks, which included his threat to "go Defcon 3 on Jewish people", Adidas Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden continues to sell Ye's shoes and has even begun defending the Hitler-praising artist.
"I think Kanye West is one of the most creative people in the world," said Gulden in a recent podcast. "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 off that way. That meant we lost that business, one of the most successful collabs in the history … very sad."
So sad for Mr. Gulden, but not surprising, given Adidas' historically cozy relationship with Nazis. From Time:
Adidas founders Adi and Rudi Dassler were members of the Nazi party—joining in 1933, the same year Adolf Hitler became Chancellor. The German shoe brand, launched in the 1920s, was one of many German companies to cooperate with the Nazi party during the 1930s and 1940s. (The Adidas corporate site does not mention this history—framing the period of 1900-1949 as "only the start of our story.")
Adidas may have buried the start of its story, but the latest chapter is looking good for the shoemaker. From CNN:
Adidas took a huge financial hit after the dissolution of the Yeezy line of shoes. The company said it expected to lose $1.3 billion in revenue this year because it was unable to sell the designer's Yeezy clothing and shoes.
However, strong sales so far of leftover Yeezy inventory is helping it to recoup some of its losses. It now expects to make a €450 million ($491 million) operating loss in 2023, a much better outcome than the €700 million ($764 million) loss it had forecast back in March.
This might be the way for corporations to thrive in an increasingly polarized world: Announce you are "cutting ties" with a problematic affiliate, then go right ahead and continue the lucrative partnership.