Adidas Top Marketer Explains Why It Took 2 Weeks to Drop Kanye ‘Ye’ West: ‘This Is a Really Complex Situation’

Vicky Free opened up about the company’s decision following the rapper’s string of antisemitic comments

Kanye West
Kanye West at a Balenciaga event on October 02, 2022 in Villepinte, France. (Anthony Ghnassia/Getty Images For Balenciaga)

Adidas’ head of global marketing clarified why the company took its sweet time cutting ties with Kanye “Ye” West after the rapper went on a series of antisemitic tirades.

On Oct. 25, Adidas finally terminated its lucrative partnership with his Yeezy brand, which had been “under review” since he wore a “White Lives Matter” shirt to a Paris Fashion Week show earlier in the month. The announcement followed weeks of mounting pressure from the public and other brands.

“The reality is, this is a complex situation,” Adidas exec Vicky Free told AdWeek during Social Media Week Europe.

“We have employees, partners and production factories all around the world that are impacted by the decision we made. We know that was the right decision, but we needed to approach it with diligence and care,” she continued, adding that there were “a lot of people involved.”

“We took the time necessary to make the right decisions and I’m personally proud to stand by that decision,” said Free. “We’ll always stand on the side of love, not hate.”

In that period of time, companies including Balenciaga, Christie’s and TJX (the parent company of TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshalls) ended their relationships with Ye. MRC scrapped a completed documentary about the rapper, and his agency CAA dropped him from its roster.

However, Adidas’ announcement triggered the majority of business cancellations, including Gap, Foot Locker and The RealReal.

“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the company said on Oct. 25. “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.”

According to the statement, the end of the decade-long partnership will cost the company up to $252 million this year. Analysts at Credit Suisse estimated that Adidas had made a yearly profit of $697 million from the deal, while West is estimated to have lost $1.5 billion from its ending.