The brand with three stripes: Putting an end to hate speech


Maura Peters

This image drawn by Maura Peters depicts the broken partnership between hip hop artist Kanye West and Adidas after a recent string of anti-semitic comments.

Maura Peters, Photo Manager

The recent termination of the partnership between Kanye West and Adidas has sparked a new appreciation for big companies taking action against hate speech. Other large companies such as Vogue and Balenciaga have also cut ties from ‘Ye’ due to his antisemitic past. The Yeezy shoe line is well known all over the globe and has 

It is estimated that West’s partnership with Adidas provided him with an annual revenue of over $220 million. The dissolving of this partnership will cost Adidas around $600 million in profit. The decision to leave West regarding his inappropriate remarks was a tough one, assuming it will likely cause a decrease in profit margins for the next few years.

So what exactly was said? On October 8, West announced on twitter he was going “death con 3 on Jewish people”. 

“I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE. The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew,”

This comment along with many others are what led to West losing brand deals with so many large companies, Adidas being the largest and most influential.

The well known German sportswear brand has received lots of recent attention from the media, and it has become increasingly easy for prospective customers to analyze the very roots of Adidas and how cutting ties with West was a decision the company was obligated to make. 

Adidas was founded in 1924 by the Dassler Brothers, Adolf and Rudolf. They gained popularity after creating the precursor to the modern track spike: nails drilled into shoes to help runners gain traction. The market in Germany was rapidly growing, and the brothers gained a large consumer base. 

With some newfound fortunes and a wealth increase in Germany, the Dasslers begin to analyze political affiliation, and with the Nazi Party on the rise, Adolf and Rudolf announce their joining of the Nazi Party.

Having the political association with the Nazi Party exposed a greater group of Germans to the Dassler’s shoes, increased sales almost immediately for the brothers. Many athletes in Germany sported Dassler Shoes as professional athletes like Jesse Owens and Lina Radke wore their shoes in multiple Olympic games.

At the start of World War ll, Adolf and his brother split and Dassler shoes were no longer a legitimate brand. Adolf decided to continue shoe production and formed a new corporation titled “Adi-das.” Rudolf then went on to form his own athletic brand, “Puma.”

As Adolf began to age and years went by, the brands antisemitic roots seemed to dissolve. As Adidas began to grow globally and increase in popularity, it no longer needed the political affiliation that once helped it in small town Germany. 

Given the history of Adidas and the antisemitic beliefs the brand once endorsed, Adidas had a social responsibility to cut off any possible discussion of antisemitism tied to their name. The ability for a large corporation to give up 10% of their profits says a lot about the global culture of hate speech in regards to religion and equality.

The Anti-Defamation League is an international Jewish organization focused on “Fighting hate for good.” The ADL praised Adidas for taking initiative and putting an end to West’s appropriate and childish statements about his connection to the brand.

“In the end, Adidas’ action sends a powerful message that antisemitism and bigotry have NO place in society,” says the ADL in a statement made via CNBC.

In addition to losing Adidas, Kanye also suffered the loss of many other partnerships, including Vogue and Balenciaga. Since then, Kanye has also lost his share of Kim Kardashian’s shapewear brand, “Skims.” Gap was the next brand to eliminate association with the famous musician. 

“Our former partner’s recent remarks and behavior further underscores why we are taking immediate steps to remove Yeezy Gap products from our stores,” said a Gap retailer in a recent disclosed discussion. 

The ability for big brands to stand up to big names and billionaires demonstrates steps in the right direction for the future of hate speech throughout the globe, and it all began with Adidas. Despite having a conflicting past rooted in antisemitism, Adidas inspired other large companies to disassociate from the negativity and ego-centrism that has controlled them for so many years.