WSJ: Adidas’ Post-Ye Strategy to Focus on Sports Instead of Celebrities, Remaining Yeezy Stock to be Sold for Charity

New Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden is taking the brand back to its roots in the U.S. — sports.
New Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden is taking the brand back to its roots in the U.S. — sports. (Source: Adidas)

As a number of Adidas’ high-profile celebrity partnerships fizzle out — or in the case of its collaboration with Kanye West, a.k.a. Ye, go up in flames — the company is shifting its strategy to make sports the focal point of its U.S. business, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We have to be focusing on sports — that’s where the root of Adidas is,” said Adidas North American President Rupert Campbell in an interview with WSJ. In particular, the company will be increasing its focus on basketball and soccer in the U.S. as it looks to play to its strengths. Case in point: while Adidas’ fashion sales declined last year, sportswear and equipment sales grew.

To this end, the company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a newly opened facility in Los Angeles, where it will base its basketball product team, and on upgrades to its main U.S. hub in Portland, Ore., WSJ reports. The company also recently renewed its longtime partnership with Major League Soccer and plans to open more U.S. stores and forge new partnerships with athletes.

Adidas’ new CEO Bjørn Gulden was formerly a professional soccer player and served as the CEO of rival Puma before taking the helm at Adidas in January 2023. His playbook for a turnaround at Adidas will pull more than a few pages from the one he used at Puma as he looks “to restore the bond between Adidas and its customers,” WSJ reported separately.


While the sportswear brand’s rupture with West over his antisemitic remarks was certainly the most high-profile, it’s not the only challenged celebrity partnership Adidas has faced in the last year. The company also is ending its collaboration with Beyoncé’s Ivy Park brand after sales fell short of expectations, and its collaboration with Pharrell Williams’ Humanrace fashion label also is underperforming, although Gulden has said he hopes Williams’ recent appointment as a Creative Director at Louis Vuitton will give it a boost.

Update from 5/11/23: After struggling for months to determine what to do with its excess Yeezy stock following the abrupt ending of that partnership, Adidas has announced that it will sell some of the remaining Yeezy items and donate the proceeds to charity. How and when the sale will proceed is yet to determined, according to Reuters.

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