“Put Molly all in the champagne / She ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoy that / She ain’t even know it.”
These were the words that cost Rick Ross a lucrative endorsement deal with Reebok back in 2013, after the rapper alluded to date raping a woman in his verse on Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O.” Ross was quick to apologize for the lyrics, but that didn’t stop Reebok from severing its ties with the rapper one month later.
Reebok issued the following statement, after a petition with 72,000 signatures was presented to the brand calling for Ross to be dropped:
“Reebok holds our partners to a high standard, and we expect them to live up to the values of our brand. Unfortunately, Rick Ross has failed to do so. While we do not believe that Rick Ross condones sexual assault, we are very disappointed he has yet to display an understanding of the seriousness of this issue or an appropriate level of remorse.”
It took over a month for Reebok to act, but the message was clear: sexual assault is extremely serious, and we won’t be associated with it.
A few weeks ago, a video emerged allegedly depicting VLONE designer A$AP Bari sexually assaulting a woman. The video showed a woman having bedsheets pulled off her by a man who appeared to be Bari, who was then heard on camera saying “you fucked my assistant, now you’re going to suck my dick.” The woman is clearly distressed, and a few seconds later the man’s voice is heard saying “shut the fuck up bitch.”
The video quickly spread online, although many publications declined to post it.
Bari issued the following statement via Twitter.
Whereas Reebok dropped Ross for lyrically insinuating sexual assault, Bari, one of Nike’s collaborators, appears to have actually been caught on camera for the allegations against him. However, Nike has yet to make a public statement regarding the situation.
“Sexual assault should be a zero-tolerance, no-compromise offense when it comes to a brand’s response,” comments Jeremy Robinson-Leon from Group Gordon, a corporate communications agency that specializes in crisis and reputation management. “In this case Nike should do what’s right and cut ties with Bari in one way or another.”
Robinson-Leon explains that there’s three possible reasons for Nike’s silence.
“1) Nike execs are still trying to plot a course of action, 2) Nike execs are making moves behind the scenes to part ways with Bari, or 3) Nike execs believe they can glide under the radar and take a wait-and-see approach, a strategy that is generally one of the biggest fallacies of crisis response.”
“Yes, it’s an important commercial partnership for Nike. But being a good, responsible, smart company means elevating integrity over a commercial hit. The reality is that standing up for what’s right will serve the company much better over the long term.”
We reached out to Nike but the brand has not yet commented.
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- Cover Image: Thomas Welch / Highsnobiety.com