Sports brand adidas has put its partnership with Kanye West’s Yeezy in review shortly after Gap and Kanye West prematurely parted ways due to differences in strategy. “After repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation, we have taken the decision to place the partnership under review,” adidas said in a statement to media outlets.
The partnership between adidas and West began in 2013 and was further expanded in 2016 to include distribution for the Yeezy clothing line. But the relationship started to go sour in recent times as West publicly criticised the company and CEO for not giving him enough control over the line and even accused the brand of copying ideas. West’s tumultuous relationship with adidas was also mirrored in the one he had with Gap, where he similarly echoed accusations of lack of control.
"Adidas has always been about creativity, innovation and supporting athletes and artists to achieve their vision. The adidas Yeezy partnership is one of the most successful collaborations in our industry’s history. We are proud of our team that has worked tirelessly throughout our collaboration with West and the iconic products that were born from it. We also recognize that all successful partnerships are rooted in mutual respect and shared values. After repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation, we have taken the decision to place the partnership under review. We will continue to co-manage the current product during this period," an adidas spokesperson said in a statement to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE.
Industry players MARKETING-INTERACTIVE reached out to with regards to celebrity partnerships said that when entering such collaborations, it would do companies well to remember that every brand and celebrity has a unique personality and that’s why they all appeal to different audience segment or customers.
Samir Dixit, a partner with DIA Brands, also added that surprisingly, brands that don’t have prior celebrity association experience miss out on some of the basic contractual aspects while signing on a celebrity. Very importantly, a contract with the celebrity must have compensation clauses that would protect a brand in a mishap situation and provide the brand with an exit against a celebrity contract. There should also be room for compensation from a celebrity and allowance to make a public statement clarifying the brand’s position and distance from a controversy that the celebrity is involved in.
“Brands should consult a good IP lawyer when signing a celebrity or when getting into any sponsorship or partnership association,” Dixit further added. “Prevention is better than cure so do your homework thoroughly on the celebrity before signing on.”
Jay Milliken, senior partner at Prophet, added that when a brand chooses to establish a partnership with a celebrity or influencer who is known to be outspoken, then they should already assume the risk that something unexpected could happen. "In these cases, the fact that the person is opinionated and outspoken is likely part of what initially attracted the brand to the relationship," he added.
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