Sep 21, 2023 2 min read

Adidas boss on Kanye: "I don’t think he meant what he said"

Adidas boss Bjørn Gulden has discussed the collapse of his company’s Yeezy partnership with Kanye West following the rapper’s anti-Semitic statements

Adidas boss on Kanye: "I don’t think he meant what he said"

The boss of Adidas has spoken about the sportswear firm's former business partner Kanye West, musing that he doesn't believe the rapper is a "bad person", nor that he really meant what he said last year in those controversial anti-Semitic statements that led to the collapse of the Yeezy alliance.

Bjørn Gulden joined Adidas from rival Puma back in January, just over two months after his new employer confirmed it was cutting its ties with West in response to the rapper's increasingly controversial statements. The firm's partnership with the rapper and his Yeezy brand was incredibly lucrative, making the premature cancellation of the partnership very costly indeed for Adidas.

Gulden was asked about West during an edition of the In Good Company podcast earlier this month. He said that he considers the rapper to be "one of the most creative people in the world - both in music and what I call street culture". And by employing that creativity, he created a Yeezy line with Adidas which was "very successful".

But then, of course, he made some statements, "which wasn't that good. And that caused Adidas to break the contract and withdraw the product. [It was] very unfortunate, because I don’t think he meant what he said and I don’t think he’s a bad person - it just came across that way".

“That meant we lost that business", he confirmed. "One of the most successful collabs in history - [it was] very sad. But again, when you work with third parties, that could happen. It’s part of the game. That can happen with an athlete, it can happen with an entertainer. It’s part of the business".

Bjørn Gulden CEO of Adidas: shoes, leadership, and fast decisions | Norges Bank Investment Management
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