Adidas AG CEO Kasper Rorsted has not considered dropping Kanye West after the rapper’s recent controversial comments on slavery.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV today following the company’s strong earnings report, Rorsted said board members have not discussed the possibility of cutting ties with West — who spearheads a collaboration with the athletic giant through his Yeezy sneaker line.
“I’ve not had any conversations with Kanye in the last 24 hours,” Rorsted said. “It’s very clear to us that we’re a sports company; we want to change people’s lives through sport.”
He added: “We neither comment nor speculate on every single comment that our external creators are making. Kanye has been and is a very important part of our strategy and has been a fantastic creator, and that’s where I’m going to leave it.”
Rorsted’s remarks come at a time when activist site Care2 has launched petition calling for Adidas to sever its relationship with the sneaker mogul. “Kanye West has a right to free speech, and he has the right to spout lies and misinformation and misplaced opinions — but we as consumers have the right to fight back against this type of dangerous propaganda,” it read. As of the time of reporting, the petition had garnered 6,705 supporters out of a 10,000 goal.
During a TMZ segment two days ago, West drew widespread criticism when he said, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … for 400 years? That sounds like a choice.”
The future of Adidas and its Yeezy label continue to be hot topics of speculation, but Rorsted seemed to indicate that West’s role will not impact the company’s overall health. “While Kanye is a very important part of the Adidas brand, Adidas is a large global company that [has] a very strong presence around the world and will continue to perform well,” he said.
The Germany-based sportswear maker announced first-quarter earnings today that rose 18.6 percent to 540 million euros ($647 million).
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