How Kanye West 'Boosted' Adidas

They are currently one of the largest players in pop-culture and fashion, and last quarter, their earnings surged 30%. How did Adidas take off? Kanye West, although not behind all of their latest designs, may well have been the catalyst to Adidas’ newfound success. The relationship between Kanye and Adidas goes far beyond a celebrity ad campaign or endorsement deal. This partnership serves as a perfect example of influencer marketing in which both parties are able to flourish.


Kanye is known as a creative genius, and over the years has amassed a cult-like following. His social status was highly advantageous for Adidas, as the same energy and excitement that surrounds Kanye’s music releases now also surrounds Adidas and their latest products. This symbiotic relationship has allowed Adidas to surge forward in footwear sales while also allowing Kanye to expand his personal brand from musician to designer. An additional benefit for Adidas is that Kanye does plenty of the marketing for free simply by wearing his own creations, all the while praising Adidas’ creative genius in one of his innumerable public declamations.  


By setting aside an entire business unit specifically for Mr. West, Adidas and Kanye have been able to set a new precedent in the fashion and pop-culture world. Adidas can now differentiate from all other lifestyle brands by including Kanye in the actual design process of his Yeezy line. Then, taking advantage of the incredible hype surrounding the releases of those products, Adidas has been able to design items without Kanye while still leaving consumers craving more. The Yeezy 350 Boost, Kanye’s most popular shoe with Adidas, retails for $200, yet sells on eBay for upwards of $900. Kanye set a spark that captured the attention of consumers, and now all Adidas has to do is keep them satisfied.


How a brand markets itself to consumers is everything in the ultra-competitive fashion industry, and Adidas has allowed Kanye to do plenty of the work for them. President of Adidas North America, Mark King, described Kanye’s influence on Adidas’ growth, saying, “[Kanye’s] brought the idea that the Adidas brand is willing to create new and different things. The association with Kanye West and how he sees himself as an artist—with design, music and culture—said ‘this Adidas brand is not just a typical sports brand. It’s one that looks at creativity and considers both sports and culture.’ And his influence runs deeper than that—to products that he really has no connection with.” Adidas gave Kanye West a creative license to design, and in turn were able to reinvent themselves and grow their position in pop-culture, sports, music and fashion. Continuing to utilize the benefits of influencer marketing, Adidas and Mr. West have developed a powerful duo primed for prosperity for years to come.

-Sam Werner

Stanford Marketing Group