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The Right Thing for the Right Reasons

Adidas finally decided to cut ties with Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) over his antisemitic remarks.

The keyword in that last sentence was "finally".

Because Ye has been making antisemitic comments for a few weeks now, and the public has been pressuring Adidas to act since his first offence.

Now, think back to when you were a kid.

Your parents asked you to clean your room and you conveniently "forgot".

And then, a while later, they asked you again to clean your room, this time a little more forcefully... but you still didn't do it, hoping they might eventually forget about the mess.

And then, when your parents finally had enough and said something like, "If you don't clean your room RIGHT NOW, you'll be grounded with no TV for the entire month!!!!"

After the ultimatum was issued, you probably cleaned your room.

But your delay cost you the chance to earn any goodwill.

By then, your parents knew you were cleaning your room, not because they expected you to do it or because keeping your room tidy was the right thing to do, but because you wanted to avoid an unpleasant consequence.

And you don't get any credit for that.

To be fair, Adidas couldn't end its partnership with Ye instantly.

The company's lawyers needed time to review the partnership agreement carefully and ensure a bad-behaviour clause existed, Ye's actions clearly and undeniably violated it, and terminating the partnership was a viable business option as a result.

That would have taken a few hours. A few days, at most.

Not a few weeks.

So why the delay?

Was it the Adidas PR team, who saw Ye publicly self-destruct and needed time to put appropriate damage control measures in place?

Was it the Adidas number crunchers, tasked with calculating the negative financial impact that ending the Adidas/Ye partnership would have on the company? How much inventory will we need to write down, how badly will this affect our sales projections for this year, and how will our reduced sales projections impact our stock price? Those sorts of questions.

Was it the Adidas senior executive team, understanding the company's partnership with Ye was a huge deal (if you'll pardon the wordplay) and hoping the outrage would eventually fade so things could continue status quo?

Maybe it was something else entirely.

But the public's outrage didn't die down, it grew exponentially.

Ye's other partners began to cut ties. It quickly became clear that some definitive action would be required. That just didn't become clear quickly enough for Adidas.

And expectations of Adidas were particularly high. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany tweeted, “As a German company, I simply expect from Adidas a clear stance when it comes to anti-Semitism... Entrepreneurial interests must not be the priority.”

Eventually, Adidas took action.


We might never know why Adidas took so long to end its partnership with Ye.

But we know you don't get credit for doing the right thing when you're forced into doing it.

That's a lesson we learned as children.


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