Reebok is refuting a report this week suggesting singer Beyoncé walked out of a meeting with the brand over a lack of diversity at the company.
“The report that Beyoncé walked out of a meeting with Reebok due to lack of diversity is categorically false,” a spokesperson for the brand told FN. “Our discussions with Beyoncé and her team continued for several months after our initial meeting. We are disappointed that false information is being reported as fact.”
During a segment of ESPN’s “The Jump” this week, Nick DePaula, an ESPN writer and creative director at NiceKicks, recounted a story about a supposed meeting between Beyoncé and Reebok.
DePaula said the entertainer had discussions with several athletic brands — including Reebok, Under Armour and Jordan Brand — over the past year or so before inking her multilayered partnership with Adidas, announced this week. (Germany-based Adidas is the parent company to Reebok.)
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DePaula noted that he “heard a great story” about Beyoncé’s meeting with Reebok that culminated with the singer deciding not to move forward with the brand because team members she met with did not reflect her background and skin color.
“She took a step back and said, ‘Is this the team that will be working on my product?’ And somebody said yes,” DePaula recalled, noting Reebok had prepared a presentation for the singer displaying some ideas for a proposed partnership. “And she said, ‘Nobody in this room reflects my background, my skin color and where I’m from and what I want to do.’ So she kind of took a step back and left. And then it did not come to terms.”
Whether DePaula intended to suggest that the singer literally walked out of the meeting and never engaged with the brand after remains unclear. Either way, Beyoncé would ultimately move forward with Reebok parent Adidas to forge a partnership aimed at empowering “the next generation of creators, driving positive change in the world through sport and identifying new business opportunities.”
Adidas said the collaborative effort will yield co-created performance and lifestyle products, as well a “unique purpose-driven program focused on empowering and enabling the next generation of athletes, creators and leaders.” It will be driven by meaningful and rich storytelling, according to Adidas, and help the singer relaunch her Ivy Park brand.