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Read The Room

Read the room

I was going to write about Halloween, because it’s timely, but no: Ye is more important than pumpkins. Ye is many things – an anti-Semite, most damningly – but for PRs, he’s a lesson in what happens when brands fail to read the room.

After posting anti-Semitic hate speech on his Instagram account on October 8th, Meta suspended his account the same day, with Twitter following a day later. Radio play of his music declined 21% in the following few days. Yet it took a full 13 days for Balenciaga to sever ties with him, 16 days for Kim and Khloe Kardashian to issue a statement, and 17 days for Adidas to announce it would cease production of all Yeezy products, adding that the move would cost them $246m in profits. 

Why so long, Adidas? They gave themselves away by mentioning the losses they’d make. Not a classy move. Equally distasteful, to me, have been the endless headlines emphasising that “Ye is no longer a billionaire”, as though this is the most important fact about him. I don’t care that his net worth has “dropped” to $400m. At a time when more people than ever are struggling economically, pushing the message that money is the defining factor of anybody’s worth is utterly tone deaf. If you want to keep your customers on side, you need to act in their interests, and be seen to reflect their values.

Younger customers in particular are less impressed by profit than integrity.

Brands really do need to read the room: immediately, not 17 days later. 

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