REEBOK DROPS ROSS: Sounds like Reebok International Ltd. heard the “Reebok Drop Rick Ross” message loud and clear from the women’s activist group UltraViolet. The athletic footwear and apparel powerhouse late Thursday afternoon dropped Ross as spokesman for the brand’s Classics line of sneakers.
Reebok and the rapper had been taking a beating in the media since last week for Ross’ date-rape lyrics in a song titled “U.O.E.N.O.” In the song, the rapper describes drugging a woman’s Champagne with “Molly,” or Ecstasy, and having sex with her without her knowledge or consent. Ross tweeted an apology last week after the UltraViolet organization demonstrated in front of the Reebok Fitness Hub on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and attempted to submit a petition of 72,000 signatures protesting Reebok’s endorsement of Ross. The petition grew to 100,000 signatures this week. “I don’t condone rape…Apologies for #lyric interpreted as rape,” Ross said via Twitter.
This story first appeared in the April 12, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
But Ross’ apology was widely viewed as unapologetic and out of touch, even a clumsy attempt to promote his song and himself.
Nita Chaudhary, cofounder of UltraViolet, said she believed Reebok understood that the controversy could alienate consumers and that the lyrics condoned rape — but Ross simply didn’t get it. “Reebok’s statement was incredibly strong and it shows they have an understanding of such a perplexing problem. Reebok also understood it had become an international event.…It seems to me that Reebok asked Ross to make an apology and show that he had an understanding that rape is wrong. But he just didn’t understand,” said Chaudhary.